These selected images come from Hughes' Glastonbury Opus series. They explore tensions between the seductive depiction of colour, sculptural forms with an underlying narrative that describes a type of environmental degradation that results from a large festival event. Gatherings like this where tens of thousands of people congregate generate huge quantities of waste, the images attempt to raise questions about wider human behaviour and mass consumption. These photographs do not attempt to simply use the rhetoric of documentary photography when seen in the wider context of Hughes previous work they form part of his multidisciplinary practice.

In the spring of 2015, Melinda Watson at RawFoundationUK talked to Andy about supporting their Making Waves ‘Plastic- Free Festival’ Campaign at Glastonbury Festival. They provide a range of learning programmes, campaign and collaborate on priority waste streams and behaviour change. Everything they do is systems-focused, solution-oriented and change-driven. Supporting this NGO's Hughes created a number of images [not shown here], he attended the festival in 2015 and 2016, Hughes will return to Glastonbury for the 50th anniversary in 2020.

“Where fire really burns and the light itself burns your eyes, where songs are the most beautiful songs you have ever heard, and emotions passed over in daily life take on a horrifying, uncanny hue”

― Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

Mobirise

Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

Mobirise

Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

Mobirise

Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

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Artist: Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1559.  Title: The Battle between Carnival and Lent. [source: wikimedia commons]

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

As the largest greenfield festival in the world this year (2015) with over 200,000 attendees, it requires extensive infrastructure in terms of security, transport, water and electricity. Many of the staff are volunteers and the festival aims to raise millions of pounds for good causes. However, initially inspired by a counterculture and a kind of ‘green activism’, it was rather depressing to witness, at times, a kind of gorging. In a world where scarcity is the norm for many people, and poverty is an everyday state of being, I was disappointed to see the ease with which far too many people threw away stuff - plastic bottles, food, tents, chairs, clothes and all manner of personal and household consumer goods.

Text © AndyHughes 2016

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

'I must let my senses wander as my thought, my eyes see without looking.... Go not to the object; let it come to you'.

Henry Thoreau - The Journal of Henry David Thoreau


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Artist: Jan Davidsz de Heem. Title: Still Life with Ham, Lobster and Fruit. 1653. Illustration via Wikimedia Commons.

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Glasto Opus 1, 20 x 24 Digital C-Type

Special thanks to Melinda Watson at The Raw Foundation. Their mission is to educate, engage and empower young people to accelerate a shift towards sustainable consumption and production.

READ AN INTERVIEW ABOUT GLASTO OPUS HERE AT PHOTO-MONITOR  Raw Truth: Plastic

Interviewed by Christiane Monarchi