When Derek Bishton, John Reardon, and Brian Homer set up a photography and design agency in the late 1970s in Handsworth, a multicultural, inner-city district of Birmingham, they were viewed with suspicion. “I lived in Handsworth and walked to work with my camera, and I felt people were looking at me as if to say ’Who is this white guy, is he working for the police?’” says Bishton. “As I started to take photographs I was aware of this problem.”
Their agency, Sidelines, had been set up to work with community groups on issues such as social justice housing, unemployment and immigration though, so the photographers were keen to win the locals’ trust. Discussing it in their office, a converted terraced house on a busy shopping street in Handsworth, Bishton happened to find a photograph in Camerawork Magazine, showing a Ukranian woman who had photographed herself in a portrait studio set up by American photographer David Attie. It was, he realised, the perfect solution – and one which their office was seemingly built for.
Studio 1854 commissioned the award-winning photographer to create a series of images exploring what Brexit means for love. A new exhibition showcases the project
Invisible Britain, a forthcoming book of portraits, shows people who have been left out of the media narrative and left behind by government policy – people who for whatever reason fell on hard times, and found there was little or no support, beyond what they might be able to set up for themselves. Running through the book are references to austerity, the programme of public spending cuts introduced in the UK after the recession, and the impact it’s had on the people here – whether it’s in the lack of support for the full-time carer Greg, who ended up committing suicide, or the patchy probation offered to Matt, who’s spent the last decade falling in and out of prison. The spectre of Brexit also looms, and the uncertain future, but all too obvious intolerance, it’s brought in its wake.
“I’m usually looking for things that surprise me, things that have a deeper significance, a sense of humour, I suppose. I’m always open to what happens in life, because it tends to be more interesting than anything you can imagine.”
“In many ways Another Europe questions whether Europe is other at all,” says Hamish Park. “While this is not an explicitly political exhibition, I do hope that it will go some way to reminding the audience that we share deep cultural roots which go beyond geographic borders or treaty arrangements, and that what we share is as significant as what makes us distinct.”
Park has just curated an exhibition called Another Europe which goes on show soon around Kings Cross, London, mounted on specially-designed concrete benches. Featuring one photograph from each of the 28 European Union member states, shot by a photographer from the country, it’s been organised by the Australian Cultural Forum London to celebrate both the European Year of Cultural Heritage, and Austria’s presidency of the EU council. It’s also interesting timing for this exhibition in the UK, as the country negotiates Brexit.
1854 Media’s new visual content agency, Studio 1854, commissions visually arresting and narrative-led content for clients while creating paid opportunities for British Journal of Photography’s community of photographers to make new work
The diverse and prosperous nature of London’s creative industries has long been a draw for EU citizens moving to the capital. But with Brexit looming, is this set to change?
“Maybe we are part of the problem – neither one of us would consider living outside of the M25”
“Jerry has always been aware of a strong animosity towards himself and other immigrants”
“No one in the UK has ever pulled a face when I tell them where I am from and I’ve never experienced homophobic abuse. I doubt that would be the case if I was in Bulgaria”