Capturing Community Spirit

During this summer I was commissioned to document the activities of Creative Barking and Dagenham’s neighbourhood commission on the Heath Park Estate where I live (https://www.facebook.com/heathparkart). The neighbourhood was signalled as an area of low arts participation and two artists; Isa Suarez and Marcelo Sanchez-Camus, were given an adventurous six month commission to build a project which engaged more people in the arts. From conversing with residents a series of workshops were developed that would eventually result in a show to display what had been learned. Seeing this evolution I was keen to offer the two artists more than just a documenting of their project. I wanted to provide a visual memoir of the workshops and performance that residents could take away but also providing a lasting image of the strength of the community that exists and has been strengthened by art. I divided the photos into three sections detailing the elements of the two different workshops and the production for the show and this formed an exhibition which I put up in the shop that was acquired and used as a hub for the project.

African Drumming

Here you can see photographs I took during the drumming classes led by Zedekiah Rhythm Section. For these workshops I was keen to capture the natural joy and reactions of the participants. Watching the participants I got a clear sense that through the process of drumming everyone lost their inhibitions and cares and that was I was trying to represent. The use of the heartbeat rhythm in the workshop also broke down barriers between people and I tried to make this as clear as possible in the photos. Listening to the philosophies behind his workshop from Zed was a pleasure and made the exhibition that much easier to create.

Parkour

Here are pictures taken during the Parkour training that took place outdoors on this estate and were coached by Yao from Parkour Generations. For these workshops I was keen to capture a sense of movement and progression. My impression of these workshops was that participants were being taught to own the space, to react to it in their own way and to move through it despite the obstacles and I found these ideas very inspiring. It was also very clear that a supportive team formed out of the training always egging each other on to tackle tougher things.

Behind the Scenes

Here are the behind the scenes preparations and production of the Heath Spark show. I wanted to capture a sense of the community and the artists coming together to create something special and beautiful but in a joyous and not laborious way.

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