Harry George Hall in The Guardian
Harry George Hall’s new personal project ‘Fen Skaters’ landed and the response has been unimaginable. Featuring in the Guardian and on the BBC the project has spread quickly all over the world
During the winter of 2022, Harry began reading about fen skating which dates back to the medieval period when farmers would skate on sharpened old animal bones. A traditional form of ice skating fen skating takes place on frozen fenland. During sustained periods of cold weather, flooded meadows in East Anglia freeze and create the ideal and safe terrain for skating.
The perfect surface relies on just the right amount of flooding prior to a cold snap, which makes fen skating a rare and infrequent sport. Optimum conditions enable less than a handful of skating days every few years and as a result make it a tricky project to shoot.
After subscribing to weather alerts for obscure corners of East Anglia, Harry made many trips to fen skating ‘hotspots’ to find thin or melted ice, rain, flooded roads, no sign of wonky telegraph poles (the meeting point), no skaters and darkness.
But he knew when the conditions aligned, it would be worth it.
As Harry describes ‘I met NHS workers skating before shifts and I met ice hockey players practising for free instead of on a rink. I met farmers taking to the ice after feeding cattle, people wearing the skates of their grandfathers, locals who told me about how their parents had taught them on the same fen, speed skaters, first time skaters, skaters with broken ribs, people in their late 70’s who found skating easier than walking and Richard, who said to me: “Fen skating is like life, enjoy it while you can”.