Initiated two years ago, each photographer was allocated a final stop on the London underground. The resulting project, revealed in a virtual gallery, captures London’s diversity
Two years ago, 13 photographers were allocated a stop at the end of a London tube line, for a collaborative project titled All Change. From Stratford, Upminster and Enfield in the north, to Brixton, Morden, and Lewisham in the south, each photographer produced a project based in the local area. The stories, which cover a range of themes including community, religion, and austerity, were captured pre-Covid-19, post-Brexit, and amid heightening social divides. Revealed now, in a virtual gallery, during a time in which community is valued more than ever, the work shows a joy worth celebrating: the diversity of London’s many communities.
Initiated by Owen Harvey, the idea came about during an onslaught of Brexit news, and growing feelings of division. At the time, the photographer had just finished three projects back-to-back: “I decided it would be nice to do something more collaborative in my own practice,” says Harvey, who had not previously worked with any of the photographers before. “We wanted a variety of image-makers from different backgrounds, who weren’t necessarily documentary photographers, which I think is reflected in the work that’s been made.”
The resulting projects vary in both the kinds of stories that are told and the style in which they are portrayed. In Brixton, for example, Sam Ivin produced a series of collaborative collages with the Mosaic Clubhouse, a local mental health charity, and in Bank, London’s financial district, Clara Nebeling sought to deconstruct the value of the area’s main asset, money, by asking children to draw on banknotes. In other more conceptual projects, Kasia Wozniak explored Upminister’s history of farming, creating still-lifes out of imported goods from EU farms, raising questions about the future of the industry post-Brexit, and Jocelyn Allen’s portraits of women in Watford focused on themes of identity and body-image through the conscious placement of her subject’s arms and hands.
Other projects reveal unexpected communities, such as the Epping Forest Pipe Band — a family-run orchestra photographed by Tori Ferenc in northeast London — and the Rain Crew, a breakdancing group in Stratford, documented by Will Hartley. All the work was shot over two years, allowing time for these photographers to immerse themselves into the communities they were photographing, like Lauren Maccabee in Edgware Road, who made portraits of the characters that bring Church Street Market life, and Tom Farmer in Harrow & Wealdstone, who captured a small but thriving scene through repeated visits to the local roller disco.
In the west suburbs of the city, Cian Oba-Smith documented some of the communities at risk from the expansion of Heathrow airport, while Hollie Fernando explored Enfield’s abundant green spaces. Alice Zoo employed a more personal approach, focusing on the private spaces of family homes in Lewisham, and Lewis Khan combined portraits of Hammersmith’s youth with shots from the landscape, offering a visual metaphor of the fragility of adolescence, and the impact of government austerity upon it.
“Each viewer will take something different from the projects, and I think that’s very important,” says Harvey, whose part of the project was shot in Morden, where he documented a collective of young British muslims training to become Imams — the future leaders of their community. As standalone projects, each of the photographers explores universal themes on a local level — austerity, religion, family-life, community preservation — but collectively, they show something more important. “In its most simplistic form, I want the work to show that our strength is our diversity,” says Harvey.
Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.