After 12 years living in the north of England I decided it was time to take a different kind of journey back to America, to Delaware, where I'm from. Instead of doing what I usually do, a day of traveling by car over the Pennines and then an 8-hour flight across the North Atlantic Ocean, I rode my bicycle down the old path by my house leading to Armley Mills and then cycled the 127 miles along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal to Liverpool, where I boarded a container ship. Nine days and 3000 miles later I arrived in the small port town of Chester, Pennsylvania, my birthplace.
By Water is a series of photographs about how water connects us, how it links us historically through wool, cotton, tobacco and slavery and how it links us now through the often-invisible movement of goods. It began with my desire to take a familiar and historic journey, unbroken by modern transportation; I wanted to understand the distance between my American home and my life in England, and to understand the vastness of the ocean. I wanted to experience the earth in it’s shifting land and seascapes, to feel the changing of atmosphere and culture as an unbound whole.
The series shifts and changes to include the people and stories encountered, mixing my intended narrative with other stories, other histories and currents.
Casey Orr August 2014