Waplington’s most recent photo book captures Londoners at leisure during a blistering summer of soaring temperatures, football, and political upheaval
Yuel Elob just saved up to buy a fixie bike, “just for fun, because I love cycling so much”. Daniel loves music and DJ-ing. Bada Yusuf volunteered at Pride’s pop-up shop last year, and met a group of people who are now “all friends, and I have parties at my house”. They sound like typical young Londoners but their stories are anything but – war and persecution meant all three were forced to leave their countries, and start again from scratch in London. Even so all three have found jobs, and Yusuf has nearly finished a Masters.
They feature in an exhibition called Breaking Barriers, which aims to show “the dreams and challenges faced by refugees in the UK”. Co-curated by Rebecca McClelland, who spent seven years as a photographic editor at The Sunday Times Magazine before becoming the New Statesman’s first photographic lead, the show features portraits by world-famous image-makers such as Diana Markosian, Nick Waplington, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.
Nick Waplington is racing around, negotiating busy traffic on a rainy east London day. He currently lives in New York, but today he and his assistant are preparing and finalising the prints and framing for his upcoming exhibition, Working Process, behind-the-scenes photographs of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, which are now on show at Tate Britain. As we drive down Old Street, he points to a building and says: “The first time I met Lee [McQueen] was at a party there in 1995. I was with Phil Poynter, at that time editor of Dazed & Confused, and the stylist Katy England, and we met Lee, Robbie Williams and Kate Moss. “We drank all night and they ended up dressing up Kate with design ideas. Lee and I became good friends, and as a shy man he only really trusted me to photograph him.” Waplington’s exhibition, which is curated by Simon Baker, shows some of the fruits of that friendship. McQueen commissioned Waplington in 2008 to document the preparation for what was to become the Horn of Plenty collection …