First love

Andrew Cross's photographs explore themes of journey, landscape and memory.

andrewcross.co.uk

My model childhoood

The early years of my life were spent, during the 1960s, in the open Wiltshire countryside. Here my father was farm manager of a large area of Salisbury Plain sandwiched between two of the Army's practice ranges.

Alongside the delights of a rural upbringing my boyhood fascination with machines was well served. Columns of Centurion tanks would often rumble by and Army Flying Corps reconnaissance aircraft fly low over our home. In the middle of the farm, high up on the downs, was RAF Upavon – a small airfield used to train cadets – and I often spent my time in the fields watching gliders and small Chipmunk aircraft overhead.

Alongside agriculture, the military defined the landscape and life around me. I remember clearly the arrival of the first RAF Hercules aircraft and the excitement it caused in our school playground as it practised field landings in the visible distance. Early one morning when tending to cattle my father became one of the few non-military people to witness the prototype Harrier Jump Jet as it emerged from one of the dry valleys that dissected the farm. Meanwhile way above our heads – or on television – men were landing on the moon.

Stimulating a burgeoning awareness of the world were packets of plastic kit parts. With these I constructed my own version of the environment and I enacted interpretations of historical events. Now, some decades later, Airfix models pervade my memories of that time and place. As if exploring a networking site to find old friends I trawl ebay to come across faces I recognize. To my delight some remain after all these years still in their 1960s packaging unsullied by a young boy's clumsy hands.

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