This project centres around a vulnerable group of people in a corner of East London that is undergoing rapid change. Their story is a small one but indicative of the wider pressures on the marginalised in society caused by urban regeneration and changes to the welfare system.
Gillett Square in East London 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. Some are amongst the most vulnerable in the area and may have a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, homelessness or mental illness.
Their encounters with police, social workers, housing officers and social welfare staff can be challenging on a daily basis. Through the last year or so, as I have learned and listened I have shifted my focus from what happens between drinkers in the square to individual and more personal stories. Like Nina and her determined struggle to overcome drugs, alcohol and homelessness in order that she can finally be reunited with her daughter on a permanent basis. Or Graham who sadly hung himself when he could no longer cope with disability re-assessments and the threat of eviction under new welfare rules.
Changing encounters have led to changing and less literal photographs; an attempt to show some of the party spirit in the face of odds stacked against you. A certain energy and defiance that is not captured by more obvious pictures of despair and addiction.
These pictures attempt to create an encounter with the viewer that shows them in different lights and raises questions. The project has been ongoing since 2012 and I have now started to develop individual stories, multi-media pieces, portraits and hopefully a book of snap shots exclusively for the residents. Fellow photographer Holly Revell has collaborated with the group to shoot more formal portraits that will be hopefully be shown in the square itself.
Roland and the shortlisted artists – Jacek Obloj, Laura Marques, Elisabeth Blanchet, Camille Mack and Piotr Karpinski – have their work up in a group exhibition showcasing their fantastic photography and prompting discussion of some relevant subject matters today.
Make sure to visit the show as this is the last theprintspace PhotoVoice Awards of 2015, which marks an amazing first year for the Awards!
The exhibition takes place at theprintspace Gallery (74 Kingsland Road, E2 8DL) and will continue until Monday 16th November, Mon – Fri, 9am – 7pm. Admission is, as always, free.