We asked Andy Summons to give a little more about his series "Ghost Town"
Interesting fact: Spitzkoppe is Namibian for the pebble pile.
Andy's series Ghost Town were captured in the Namib Desert on a dream road trip with four mates from Windhoek to Cape Town. Tom and Seb were living in London and Andy hadn’t seen them for more than a few days in a couple of years. Seb, who worked for Lonely Plant at the time, was able to pick the brains of the editor of the LP Africa books and organised the entire trip.
It was a meticulously planned trip, which meant there wasn’t a lot of room for Andy to go exploring for photographs. We woke up in our campsite overlooking Shark Bay in Luderitz and after a quick breakfast and coffee on the beach, we packed up and were ready to find the Ghost Town. The stark black rocks scattered through the desert surrounding Luderitz slowly blended with the iconic golden sands of the Namib desert. It felt like we’d accidentally driven to Mars. Even from afar, the abandoned diamond mining town of Kolmanskop was beautiful. A crumbling monument to humanity’s search for riches being reclaimed – devoured – by nature.
Catching glimpses of stunning mansions half-eaten by the desert make my heart skip a beat. It was so stunning and surreal. Like we were walking onto a movie set for a post-apocalyptic movie where humanity was wiped out its own greed and the planet began taking back what was rightfully hers.
The sun was already beaming by the time we got out of the cars to begin exploring. It was a stunning cloudless sunny day and, with my camera in hand, I started working out the right settings for the bright outdoor shots. By comparison, inside the houses was dim and dark. There were little signs of life all around the houses – bathtubs, sinks, footprints in the hallways. There was nearly too much to take in, I was dizzy with excitement and on edge like walking through a graveyard. I quickly left my mates to concentrate on documenting the Ghost Town as best I could. After an hour, they’d seen enough and were ready to go – it was super hot and there was no wind to take the edge off the sun bouncing off the desert sand. ‘Just ten more minutes,’ I called through an abandoned mansion. I kept roaming further and further, looking for different angles, new details and stories to capture.
Each house had its own personality – a unique stage of decay, level of sand throughout its room, graffiti, and architecture. The houses were of beautiful quality, stunning windows and floorboards, heavy doors, high ceilings – no expenses spared when they were built at the height of a diamond rush. I stepped into another house through a window – sand had closed all the external doors. I could hear someone calling my name. I ignored it and kept running around taking photos. I knew I’d probably never return – I had one chance to capture these surreal memories.
Once the diamonds disappeared, the people did too. Leaving behind a town of abandoned mansions at the mercy of the desert elements. A once-thriving town being transformed into an ever-changing artwork by the desert sands.
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