4-24 April 2013
From the Edge
From the Edge of Sight
These photographs are portraits of people affected by blindness from birth and with progressive sight loss. Many people with visual impairment use "assistive technology" as well as other possessions to facilitate independence. They are empowered, enabled and enriched for life and work in a world where sight is taken for granted by the majority.
It is quite a salutary thought for me as the photographer that these portraits will remain unseeable by most of their subjects.
In 1999 The Hackney Cooperative Developments Trust designated the Gillett Square car park the proposed site of a new town square for this corner of east London. The final completion of the square in 2006 was seen as a model of community led regeneration, involving a three way partnership between the private, public and voluntary sectors.
Gillett Square was born out of a genuinely consultative process and yet there are those with deep roots in the local area who miss the camaraderie of the old car park. They are often amongst the most vulnerable and are likely to have a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, homelessness or mental illness. Many play a daily game of cat and mouse with the police and community support officers who ask them to dispose of any alcohol. Despite this antagonism, they seem stubbornly attached to the spot they have known for over 20 years.
These residents have few material possessions but they do have each other. This photo essay attempts to describe their experiences in the square and the mutual support they offer each other.
This is an ongoing project that includes interviews and a multi-media piece.
You can't take
it with you.
You can't take it with you.
This has been a very personal project for me; one of pain and of healing. One in which I have confronted the realities of life and of death; the bagging of clothes, the jewelry in cheap plastic named boxes, with the remains of the lubricant used to ease the wedding and engagement rings off my mother's fingers, that she never took off in life, still greasy on the rings now, clinging to the cotton wool lining. The garden, once so carefully tended so soon reverts to nature and scarred by the dumping of neighbour's unwanted belongings in the undergrowth. The bungalow becoming as cold as a refrigerated corpse- each exhalation can be seen in the air as though the building is rejecting any sign of life- it is a place of death now. Possessions soon start to become covered in mildew or eaten away by woodworm. Possessions that reveal the real nature of people, from the greed of some distant relatives to the more restrained, apologetic, compassionate requests for small items from those who were truly close.
The bungalow and the objects are now gone. My parents are gone.The only possessions I am left with are those images; images that prove my parents lived lives before they died, that tell their story, and mine too.