Duality of Roadside memorials

A-1, Colloferro, Italy copyright Douglas Stockdale 2012

Initially I visualized this project in black & white. I have come to understand that this Roadside Remembrance Memorial series transcends a greater subject, one that in a way haunts me. Memory and its preservation.

These are something that is inspired by a tragic accident that usually took the life of someone too soon and far from home. On close inspection we frequently can not determine who the individual was or why the tragic event occurred. We are a witness only to the aftermath.

Conceptually these memorials are about memory itself, attempting to hold onto the memory of someone who is no longer present. As in this case on the overcast and foggy day in Italy, the memorial has seen better days, now showing wear and deterioration. Much like how memories can quickly fade and slowly fall apart over time. Both are transient.



(Note; this photograph was subsequently used by the American National Safety Council for one of their posters in 2012).

9 thoughts on “Duality of Roadside memorials

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  1. Ever since I first saw your series, 3-4 years ago when I first followed your blog, I’ve been much more aware of road side memorials, especially the local ones and how often the flowers are renewed. I often wonder whether whether they are generally noticed and if they help in any way to curb peoples driving habits; they always strike a chord with me.

    Here in the UK and somewhat different, I see a lot of benches with plaques, placed in memory of somebody or other, and I’ve often thought that they too would make an interesting series of images.

  2. Colin, thanks, I have noted that the care and maintanence of these memorials varies with those who construct them. I know of one in Napa (CA) for a woman motorcycle rider that her friends have an annual ride back to Napa to care for it. Others seem to whiter and parish away after being placed.

    BTW, I will be in Norhern England (Manchester area mostly near in Chester, Wrexham and Bolton) on and off over the next six months and maybe more, starting tomorrow, so if you or anyone knows of one of these memorials, to give me a shout out as to where I might find it. And as American, I am still not ready to drive on the wrong side of the road just yet, as I don’t want a roadside memorial put up on my behalf any sooner than neccessary.

    1. Sorry Doug, I don’t know of any specific sights, but the M6 is a very busy motorway that cuts though that area and bridges over motorways are often a classic place where memorial flowers are tied to railings. Out of interest, I just did a search on Flickr for “roadside memorials” and there’s a couple of related groups.

  3. Colin, thanks for the pointers. Besides the big motorways, are these common in the UK on the smaller side roads? Regardless, I will ask a few of my fiends in this area to keep a look out for me. I enjoy a challenge.

    1. Yes they are, very common. I think of several in the near vicinity of where I live, both suburban (often very sad and involving children, I often stop to take note) and on rural lanes. Sometimes you see them in places where folk just used to like walking and the memorial is places in recognition of the fact. Here’s one I recorded deep in the middle of some local woods


      I’m sure you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied and I’ll look forward to seeing your images!

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