This project began in 2008 when Christian Guémy (aka C215) found my photographs online and started using them in his work. We met in person in 2009 and discussed the possibility of a more formal collaboration.
Christian and I share a passion for making visible the hidden, the fleeting, and the overlooked. Christian’s moving and technically astonishing stencils depict many faces of the forgotten and disenfranchised, from the urban homeless in Paris and New York to the street children in the favelas of Sao Paulo. But for this project we wanted to expose another hidden population, and one to whom we all have an intimate connection – older people, so many of whom live alone and in isolation.
I was to take photographs and these pictures would be passed on to Christian and a hand-picked collection of street artists, chosen for their exemplary work in different media and styles, each to inspire a new and unique piece of work.
Shortly after this meeting I was introduced to Ben Long, a project worker at Age Concern Kensington & Chelsea. Ben runs intergenerational projects at the charity, bringing younger and older people together in a range of roles and activities, for the benefit all involved. It was his support and belief in this project that made it possible.
Ben introduced me to ten older residents of the Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and each was an inspiration and a great pleasure to photograph (even retired photographer, John Arthur, who made it quite clear that I was doing it wrong).
You can see all the photographs here.
By the end of 2010, Christian and I had assembled some of the finest street artists painting today – all exemplars of their style. They are: C215, Alice Pasquini, Cosmo Sarson, Ben Slow, sink, and David le Fleming. These artists took my photographs – simple snapshots of the subjects at home, sitting where they would usually sit – and used them to create a collection of stunning and memorable portraits.
The exhibition is on at The Chelsea Gallery, Kings Road until March 6th.
We had a private view last night where the subjects met the artists and saw their portraits for the first time.