In the summer of 2014 I was selected to undertake a commission in collaboration with FotoDocument, Photoworks and Bioregional. I was given 3 months to complete a photo essay on a One Planet principle: Transport. At the same time 9 other photographers were asked to complete similar essays on sustainability principles: Water, Materials, Zero Waste etc.
Previously several of my personal projects have been about either transport or sustainability issues, so this was a dream commission for me. And to top it all it was set in Brighton and Hove, the first city to gain One Planet status. That means it received accreditation from sustainable development charity BioRegional, and will therefore be able to implement more sustainability projects.
All of the projects are showing in site specific locations: Sustaianable Food is on at the Open Market for instance. Mine are up at Brighton’s main railway station until July 2015, so please use this excuse to come down to the south coast for a visit.
I have been photographing a community known as Grow Heathrow for over 3 years, a community garden and site for activists protesting against third runway expansion.
Recently there has been a threat of eviction from a landowner who wants to regain control of the plot, despite leaving it as dumping ground previously. Local support in the area is unquestionably in favour of the residents of Grow Heathrow, who throughout over 4 years have created a community hub.
The local County Court gave the landowner to permission to take his land back on the day of August 14th, but the show of support from residents and friends of the site was so strong, that Mr. Mallick didn’t have the means for eviction. There was also a massive media presence, with news of the day broadcast by the BBC and on The Guardian, Independent etc. Singing, dancing, speeches all took place, as well as gardening as usual, and meals served up made from vegetables grown on site or skipped.
More Grow Heathrow images here taken over the course of 4 years.
Four years ago I took part in a group project with several other photographers. We set out to document the World Cup, the only problem being we didn’t have tickets to any of the matches, or flights to South Africa. But being stuck in London wasn’t all bad, as most countries are represented here (we didn’t meet any North Koreans), and they they know how to gather when their country is competing.
In the process I had a Brazilian hair cut, sipped Algerian sweet tea, downed schnapps with Danish and consumed plate loads of paella with the victorious Spanish. I looked oddly out of place in a Dutch sea of orange. There were pints of beer flowing and a dancable samba band playing throughout Brazil’s involvement.
At a time when contentious migration issues are being debated in Britain, the 2014 World Cup will again be a time to celebrate with different nations the diversity that makes London one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.
More images can be seen here
Frank Hewetson is not a name that most people are familiar with, but he is one of the prisoners recently released from a harsh prison sentence in Russia as part of Arctic 30. After a worldwide campaign to get the international activists freed, Franks, at home when I met him said he thought it was only the advent of the Winter Olympics that forced their release. And that of Pussy Riot, incidentally, which happened at a similar time. The Queens Park resident spoke animatedly of his time in a first in a freezing Siberian cell, followed by a more comfortable room at St. Petersburg. As a non-smoker, one of the biggest issues was the fact that his 2 Russian cell mates were chain-smoking throughout. Aside from the thick air, they got on amicably, and ironically Frank handed cigarettes that he was given to his cellmates in the interest of friendship.
Dr Leah won a series of Alan Sugar’s The Apprentice, and is pioneering a new concept, that is a cosmetic surgery drop-in clinic. I got the call from an Irish national paper, with the brief to get a range of shots which show off the place. That wasn’t difficult, as the interior is brand new , and the lady herself is very presentable. In fact the main problem was that she seemed to have had modelling lesson, and made all the moves that looked more akin to a glamorous model rather than an entrepreneurial doctor. We took her outside to get a few city pictures in order to establish the context, but the paper went for some of the more conventional lab shots.
Another portrait of Dr Leah can be found on the portraits section of my website.
I had the pleasure to photograph someone that I would put on a pedestal, James Thornton, founding CEO of Clientearth. His practise is Europe’s first public interest environmental law organisation, and he is in the New Statesman’s top ten of people who could change the world . Not only that but he is an ordained Zen Buddhist and author of 3 books, one of which (Field Guide to the Soul) I ordered on my return home. The office of Client Earth is nothing less than you’d hope for when visiting this environmental warrior. Based in London Fields, Hackney, they have a high-ceilinged open plan room with organically shaped windows above stunning vistas of the fashionable park. A bbq sits on the balcony in preparation for summer staff dining. The man himself epitomises calmness and serenity, an agreeable soul with an underlying drive. The day I went to photograph James the sun beamed through the window, providing my subject with a halo which I could only conclude was thoroughly appropriate.
These determined young individuals are all working as apprentices in the city of London.
They have jobs ranging from Housing Officer to part of a communications team.
I like the contrast between fresh faced employees and the sense establishment that the location brings.
The light is a good mix between natural available fill from the windows on the left and behind subject, and brollie to my right.
Best of all there is a professional air about this group, yet it doesn’t feel too staged.
I have been shortlisted for the Vignette Award 2013 (see part of the selction above). Vignette is a quarterly, free magazine focusing on photographic practice from around the world.
In terms of styles, this has to be one of the most diverse shortlist for an award I’ve seen. In the portrait section alone, there are example of street, documentary and contemporary “arty” styles. I’ll let you judge what mine falls into.
The image that I took which was shortlisted was taken of James at Grow Heathrow, my long term project. I had some feedback at the time suggesting that my pictures depicted an unfeasibly happy community without any suggestions of the daily struggle. When I mentioned this to James, her was all too happy to look meditatively out from his cabin into the barren winter landscape.
I didn’t win this award, but I think the judges have chosen a worth fine art picture. Check it out here.
I am showing some of my Grow Heathrow pictures at a week long exhibition entitled Made Possible by Squatting in Tower Hill. The selected photos are of Grow Heathrow residents who have created their own dwellings through recycled and reused materials, some of those featured in my Grow Heathrow gallery
The emphasis of the exhibition is on the ways that squatting has shaped London, and the personal stories and experiences that arise when people decide to seek shelter, make a home or carry out a project in an otherwise empty or abandoned building.
It’s been a year since the government made squatting in residential buildings a criminal offence, it may be that they will do the same with commercial buildings, which could bring about a big change.
One of the other exhibitors is Alex Casper, who claims that “Squats are a place where art is made, found, destroyed. But squatting is itself a form of artistic activity, injecting life into landscapes which would otherwise be morbid and desolate”.
The exhibition is on until Tuesday 16th September, details here.
I went on to one of the most powerful roof tops in London. It provides electricity for the tower block on which it sits, in what is one of the country’s most successful community energy projects.
Not only is it generating power for the tenants, but the much-lauded scheme provides interns from the estate with paid work. In the featured photo they are helping the professionals with installation, but previously they aided Brixton Energy with arguably a harder task, that of raising money from local residents to provide the investment.
The organization behind this project, Brixton Energy, sprang out of Transition Town Brixton. Despite all the good things that the Transition movement does, there is often a criticism that it’s mainly for the white middle classes, so it was particularly good to see the interns didn’t conform to this stereotype. In fact they live in the estate in which they are working.
When I arrived up top expecting positive vibe from the workforce, I was met instead with tension and sulking. The professionals’ expectations didn’t live up to the interns’ productivity, and the schedule for completion was running late. But the difficulties were overcome with the help of Agamemnon Otero, Project Manager, and Brixton was able to proudly reveal it’s 3rd solar rooftop on the Roupell Park Estate.
For more pictures see my Transition Towns gallery.