In the summer of 1990 Hughes was a masters photography student at the Royal College of Art, London. The RCA exchange programe to Lisbon (ARCO) offered an opportunity to study for a few months, Hughes knew that a few miles south of the city the coast was blessed with good waves, each day he traveled by bus to the coastal town of Costa De Caparica to photograph surfers and the coast.
Location: Costa De Caparica | Media: C-Type Print from Colour Negative Film 16 x 20 inches.
Stretching away to the south of the Tejo River is a 30 km strip of coast that is the most consistent zone for Lisbon’s surfers. The northern section of this coast is built up and a number of jetties provide variety and stability to the sand bars.
Location: Supertubos | Media: C-Type Print from Colour Negative Film 16 x 20 inches| POA
Supertubos (Portuguese for Supertubes) is a wave and beach located in Peniche, Portugal. The break offers world-class surfing conditions with its curvy waves and hollow powerful tubes.
From the series The Surfers, 1990. Location: Costa De Caparica, Portugal | Media: C-Type Print from Colour Negative Film 16 x 20 inches
From the series The Surfers, 1990. Location: Costa De Caparica, Portugal | Media: Contact Print
Location: St Ouen's, Jersey, 1992 | Media: C-Type LightJet Print 30 x 40 Inches | POA
Title: Washed up rat and Plastiglomerate. Location: Costa De Caparice, Portugal 1990 | Media: C-Type Print 16 x 20 Inches
In 2016 Hughes read Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennet and on page four he read the chapter 'Thing-Power 1: Debris', imagine the symetry when he recognised the connectivity and syngergy between the expression in words below and the memory of this image made twenty six years ealier on a beach in Portugal.
'On a sunny Tuesday morning on 4 June in the grate over the storm drain to the Chesapeake Bay in front of Sam’s Bagels on Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore, there was:
one large men’s black plastic work glove
one dense mat of oak pollen
one unblemished dead rat
one white plastic bottle cap
one smooth stick of wood
Glove, pollen, rat, cap, stick. As I encountered these items, they shimmied back and forth between debris and thing… I was repelled by the dead (or was it merely sleeping?) rat and dismayed by the litter, but I also felt something else: a nameless awareness of the impossible singularity of that rat, that configuration of pollen, that otherwise utterly banal, mass-produced plastic water-bottle cap'.
Bennett. J. (2010) Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Durham and London: Duke University Press.