I live close to Crosby beach in north Liverpool, which has, in recent years, become famous for the Anthony Gormley art installation called Another Place. Also known as ‘the iron men’, the installation consists of one hundred iron statues made from a cast Gormley made of his own body.

Initially intended to be a temporary exhibition, the statues were purchased by Sefton Council and have now been on the beach for over a decade.

To say the iron men are popular with photographers, both amateur and professional, is an understatement. A quick Google image search for ‘iron men Crosby’ brings up lots of photos of the statues, the majority of them being caught on fine, sunny days or silhouetted against a colourful sunset. (Though, to be fair, the winter sunsets at the beach can be just stunning.)

It’s really hard to come up with something that hasn’t been done before.

However, when I woke up to a thick blanket of fog the other weekend, I jumped at the chance to grab my camera and go have my turn at photographing the statues.

 

Crosby marina

To get to the beach, I had to walk past the marina first. It was hauntingly beautiful in the fog; the lakeside leisure centre had completely disappeared into the mist, and for a while, the only clue that I wasn’t totally alone were the disembodied voices of other weekend walkers floating across the ether.

The warehouses at the end of the docks disappearing into the fog

Finally, a few people started to emerge from the fog.

Looking down a long, straight pathway which is disappearing into the fog

A person on a boat on the lake is just visible in the fog. In the foreground are rocks and shale

A buoy on the water. The fog makes it hard to see the division between water and sky

Five flying Canadian geese emerging from the fog. In the foreground is a small wooden jetty

 

Alongside the pathway, the sandy ground is covered in a wonderful, starry-shaped moss (?), full of little treasures, if you looked hard enough.

Three small, red mushrooms growing out of a bed of a moss-like plant

The skull of a bird, possibly a crow, on a bed of moss and grass

 

Crosby beach

The beach has a very large tide; when it’s out, there are vast expanses of flat sand covered in empty seashells, debris and swirly patterns left by the motion of the water.

Sand and rocks on the beach. The pile of rocks is disappearing into the fog and there are lots of swirls and patterns in the sand from where the tide goes in and out

 

The fog made the beach feel isolated and slightly eerie, the only evidence of other people being the footprints they’d left in the sand. Instead of gazing at a beautiful sunset, the iron men were staring out into nothingness, alone and abandoned in their state of partial decay.

One of the iron men statues on the horizon with an expanse of sand in the foreground

One of the iron men at the right-hand side of the photo, side on, looking down the beach. because of the fog, not much of the beach is visible

 

I was struck by just how much the iron man I was photographing was starting to look like an ancient Egyptian mummy; the rust and wear on his face was lined and looking like bandages obscuring his features.

The top half of one of the iron men, from the front, with the beach in the background, fading into the fog

Looking straight on to the face of one of the iron men with the beach in the background

Looking down the foggy beach with the head of one of the iron men in the foreground. The camera is looking three-quarters on to the head from behind it

 

Barnacles!

Another thing I particularly noticed about the iron man statue was that his lower half was almost completely covered in barnacles.

I remember a dream I once had as a child in which I had barnacles on me, and ever since I’ve had a slightly weirded-out fascination with the things.

It was time to get the macro lens out.

I was surprised, when I uploaded the photos to the computer, by the rather beautiful grey shading on the tops of them, accompanied by the rich, lush green of the attached plantlife.

They also made me think a bit of the egg pods in the Alien movies …

A closeup of barnacles on the leg of the iron man statue

A macro shot of some of the barnacles, showing them in great detail

A macro shot of a particularly large barnacle, which has another small barnacle growing on it

 

I picked up a few empty seashells with barnacles on take home; something to keep me and my macro lens amused on a rainy day, possibly …

A closeup of a mussel on the sand. The mussel is covered in barnacles

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