In 2009 a huge swathe of land in the heart of China disappeared beneath the waters of the Yangtze river: A 400 mile stretch from the mega city of Chonqing in the west to Yichang. Along with it went the people who lived, worked and brought up their families on the river’s banks, in houses owned by generations of their ancestors. I once asked (through an interpreter) near the village of Dachang, how long her family had lived there and her reply was ‘a thousand years’.
I first travelled to China in 1999 to record daily life on and around the great river before an ancient way of life disappeared forever. It was like stepping back into feudal times and to witness this way of life was a real experience. In 2003 I returned to a vastly different landscape with many of the towns and villages I had previously visited, already submerged. I photographed residents preparing for their move and the rubble of towns and villages destroyed before being submerged by rising waters. No person was bitter over being relocated, sometimes hundreds of miles from their home villages/ towns. A constant refrain was it was best for the future of China. Life is no longer lived in such close tandem with the ‘Great River’, supersize motorways are now the clogged arteries along which life is transported.