April 7, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
…Doesn’t sound like a particularly impressive title to claim, does it? From the heart of Detroit’s inner city, cluttered with cars, casinos and the occasional crime spree and corruption, Belle Isle seems a million miles away. On it, though, you’ll find some of the most extraordinary cultural attractions that Detroit isn’t known for. Wrongfully so, I think. There’s as much heritage per square foot on Belle Isle than anywhere on shore, but through recent years, Detroit’s attention has faded from the island, taking life-sustaining funds with it. Today’s project is shining the spotlight once again onto one of the highlights of Detroit – past, present and hopefully future.
Belle Isle will be a photo biography of the island park, born even before New York’s great green zone. Matthew Harding has photographed some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see with “Detroit” in the caption, and hopes now to publish his work as both a book and, if sufficiently-funded, a short documentary.
The Belle Isle Project, overall, is a photography project that shows Belle Isle as it is, and how I want to show it.
There really is much to show on the little island off the Motor City’s shore. I spent quite a few happy days exploring the island and its many attractions. The island’s conservatory rivals any you’re likely to find, and with a genuine pilot house protruding into the river, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is truly one-of-a-kind. I even got to enjoy the aquarium before it closed up shop.
My hope is that through Harding’s photography, the allure of Belle Isle will rise again to the surface of Detroiters’ minds and receive the attention (and perhaps some of the tax dollars) that it needs to survive as a cultural force in a city that needs every ounce of attraction it can afford. Help the world to see Detroit’s most famous island by backing this project on Kickstarter before April 11