mike pinches – pastures new

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Mike Pinches

Pastures New


I was born in the English New Town of Milton Keynes in the 1980s when much of it was still fields. It had been conceived, in the 1960s, as a radical solution to the post-war housing crisis and as an opportunity to create a utopian city of the future in the Buckinghamshire countryside. Recently, I went back to find that a place designed to make perfect sense had ended up making no sense at all.

Central Milton Keynes is like an out-of-town shopping mall. Underpasses, overpasses and self-contained shopping areas ensure pedestrians and cars are kept apart. On its outskirts, high-speed roads are littered with blocked exits and unfinished slip roads which wait for new housing estates and industrial units to be built. In between, housing developments with names like Oakgrove, Newlands, and Springfield fill the gap. The town has seen phenomenal growth over its relatively short lifespan – today nearly a quarter of a million people call it home.



I studied Photojournalism at the London College of Printing and Architectural Design at the University of Edinburgh. Pastures New currently exists as a book dummy of forty-six photographs, sixteen of which are shown here. A lightbox installation of the project was exhibited in Milton Keynes as part of the town’s fortieth birthday celebrations. It has also been nominated for the Creative Review Futures Awards, the Creative Review Photography Annual, the Picture Editors’ Awards, and the Guardian Student Media Award.


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“Let’s Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don’t Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell” by Sufjan Stevens.

Used with permission.


22 Responses to “mike pinches – pastures new”

  • Really really like this essay, the graphic-ness and the humor, but I think the images need to be slowed down,the slide show goes too fast and i would like to sit a while longer with each image. Well done though..different for burn.

  • “…a place designed to make perfect sense had ended up making no sense at all…”

    Huh, but the pictures make perfect sense, thanks to the fact, that the place makes no sense!! Thanks, nice eye!

  • not normally my style at all, but I really like how this runs. A pleasant suprise on two fronts.

  • This would work if one had more time to contemplate each photo.

  • Charles, if you click on the pictures you can stop them and take your time..

  • I really love this. It works great at this speed as a trailer and a tease for a greater body of work, which of course it is. I want to see more and that may be the greatest compliment I could give. Does the last photo in the book dummy have a hint of a person? ;-)) Love it.


    this is exactly the speed Mike Pinches wanted the show to run….yea, a little uncomfortable first time through, but again probably his point and it grows on you…anyway, i am sure he will jump in and answer you directly…just wanted you to know we always do what the photographer wants, unless they ask for edit or advice…i would of course do the same for you….

  • Thanks to all for the comments and to David and Anton for having this project on burn.

    It’s always a challenge trying to predict how long a viewer will want to look at your work for. I think I tend to assume an impatient audience so I can be pleasantly surprised if people go back over the pictures to take a closer look.

    I take the point though, and I like Tom’s trailer analogy. The project can be seen at a more sedate pace here:


  • Mike: I’ve watched this several times and love it more the more I see it. Congratulations.

  • The yellow toy kills the essay………drags it down to the ordinary conceptually

  • Mike; I like it, but found the music unnecessary and quite a strange choice?? However I liked the rushed sequencing. I’m still trying to work out why because usually I like to mull over an image!

    Cheers :-)

  • My sound was accidentally turned off, but I think along Ross, and also Imants. Still, the unpretentiousness of the images in illustrating your purpose, very much a “telling it like it is” project, wins me over.

    Also, thru identifictaion with the suburb I grew up in myself, I imagine a certain romance behind all the apparent vacuity.

  • Still delayed at Fairbanks International Airport.

    I didn’t like it the first time, just because it moved too damned fast. But then I’ve got time to kill here. So I went back and looked at it again, at the same pace but with registration taking place twice, and this time I liked it very much.

    It makes me feel kind of nervous.

  • I really like this overall. I have to agree with Imants about the toy “digger” as my 4 year old would call it. Unless this was a found object in place it feels too intentional and does not match the objectivity of the other images.

    Congratulations Mike.


  • This is really my cup of tea. Loved it. The speed throws you off kilter initially which really works in that when you get to the end, you can’t quite believe what your eyes have just seen. Zany and weird in equal measure, just like the place itself.

    I had to follow a Labour Party candidate canvassing in Milton Keynes many, many moons ago and thought it a very strange place indeed. I really enjoyed it though but drank far too many cups of tea.

    Top marks from this burnian.

  • The yellow digger, far as I’m concerned, was a treat.

  • Thanks again for the comments.

    The toy digger was just sitting there waiting to be photographed. For me it seemed to talk about the ever-expanding, constantly evolving yet slightly incongruous nature of the place – not for nothing is it sometimes referred to as a toy-town. I don’t think, in this respect, the picture is out of sync with the rest of the project.

    That said, the size and position of the object in the frame maybe implies a some involvement in the scene which was in fact absent – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I set it up. Its inclusion in this edit of 16 pictures is also potentially jarring because it’s the only “found object”, whilst in the book-edit it’s one of five. In hindsight, a more distant frame might have made all the difference.

    I chose the music because, for me, it reflected a number of conflicting sentiments I had about the place. I liked the rising strings and their sense of measured optimism and progression combined with the vibraphone’s uneasy melancholy clouding everything over. I also felt it fitted with the tone of the pictures themselves and with the pace and structure of the presentation.

    Whether or not it adds something to the piece as a whole – which was my intention – seems very much to depend on people’s subjective response to it, which is why it’s great to read everybody’s feedback here.

  • The yellow digger toy in a landscape scene with cows..is a tired worn out cliché that is even unacceptable from middle school photography kids
    Keep the cows toss the digger

  • Clever, imaginative and creative take on a really crazy place. I too have been there and this essays does this place justice in a understated, probably not postcard-friendly way.
    The speed caught me by surprise too but made take a second and third and fourth look.
    well done, really enjoyed it.

  • LOVED IT! :)))))))))))))))

    although i thought it went by too quickly at first….i got used to it 2/3rd viewing….

    cow/toy picture too seem the most ‘imperfect’…but, the weird juxtaposition got me….

    no time to write more, but this is terrific work

    book! :)))))))


  • jenny lynn walker

    It’s a fascinating piece you’ve created Mike. I’ve watched it 3 times and will again. With each viewing, I see more, and the play speed forces my mind to look and see quickly – to dance along. I began to see lots of straight lines jumping from place to place about the frame – edges of things, lamp-posts and boxes, frames within frames. Nice.

    On first listening, the music came across as just sad, but as I looked and listened it started to sound humorous, the repetition as a searching for an opening in a maze of dead ends – a mirror to the unexplained and ‘unfinished’ places within your playful elegy to Milton Keynes. It has a reputation as being one of the most boring towns in the country with the largest number of round-abouts. Is that the case?

    Of the images here, I most like the lampost growing out of the grass in the gap in the hedge and the image of a door in a concrete wall (these 2 images are side by side at the moment and I like that).

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