Sun-bleached photos of the UK’s hottest day of the year

Sun-bleached photos of the UK’s hottest day of the year

Photographer Ossi Piispanen captures surreal scenes amid the sweltering temperatures in Clacton-on-Sea and Jaywick.

I discovered Clacton-on-Sea by accident a few years ago due to a family member being hospitalised there. After ward visits, we would take long walks along the beach promenade, all the way to neighbouring Jaywick and then back to Clacton pier.

It struck me how people looked so eccentric and different. I have never seen so many pimped-up mobility scooters, sun-faded tattoos and almost American-looking holiday trailer parks. Even the grand and festive façade of the pleasure pier had crumpled somewhat beautifully, to look almost abandoned. The long, sandy beaches, well-tanned pensioners and twinkling amusement arcades reminded me of a road trip through post-Trump presidential election Florida in 2017.

When the UK was hit by a record-breaking September heatwave, I escaped London to return to Clacton for a beach break with my point-and-shoot camera. I was surprised by how open people are once you leave London. Everyone in Clacton was quick to engage me, with no-one shy of the camera. As I entered this Martin Parr-esque world for two days, I managed to speak to many locals about why they had moved to Clacton and how things were going.

Jaywick has regularly been ranked as the most deprived area in the UK, while Clacton-on-Sea also finds itself at number 46 in the government’s 2019 Indices of Multiple Deprivation statistics. Known as a bustling yet affordable seaside resort for Britons, Clacton recorded one of the highest leave votes in England in the 2016 referendum. People hoped for more control over immigration and increased investment in the NHS. However, in reality, Clacton and Jaywick have witnessed a significant exodus of their labour force, leaving the hospitality industry in trouble.

Pamela (right) and her husband

I met a carpenter named Dave who told me how relocating to Clacton from Colchester had changed his life, allowing him more time for himself. As I was strolling down the promenade, a gentleman flagged me down, asking me to take a photo of his beautiful wife, Pamela. I asked another gentleman why he had a wine glass tattooed on the top of his hand, and he replied that his wife had done it because she enjoys a drink.

I met Kris and his 16 year old dog called Gucci, who told me that Jaywick used to be buzzing. It had nice holiday homes belonging to many middle class families and the area used to look much nicer than it does now. Everyone I spoke to seemed relaxed and fun-loving but beneath the surface, there was an undertone of nostalgia and how things used to be better.

Follow photographer Ossi Piispanen on Instagram.

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