‘You can learn more about the human condition in a voyage along the Thames than on any long journey over the oceans of the world. But water reflects. It has no meaning. So we may say that the Thames is in essence a reflection of circumstances…’ Peter Ackroyd
These images, taken along the course of the River Thames, offer a small glimpse of how the river is inextricably linked to the national psyche, not just by its proximity to the capital but also through its collective history. Rich in culture and heritage the river has been the scene of many a spectacle from Royal traditions to industrial innovations. Yet it remains a wholly communal river, an inspiration to artists and musicians, a river of leisure, of sport and a place people call home. These images are a meditation on a collective connection to the Thames and they reflect the diversity of community and tradition found along the route of the river.
A Life Between Brackets
‘To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour’
- Auguries of Innocence
From 2006-2010 Norbert Mbu Mputu struggled to cope with the stresses and strains of life as a failed asylum seeker. Forced to flee his native Congo he initially lived on the streets in London before being given temporary accommodation and eventually being relocated to Newport, until his asylum application was rejected in early 2006. Dubbed a 'sofa surfer' by many he lived a transient life between Newport and London sleeping on friends floors and sofas, sometimes for as little as 3 hours a night, with no home, no income and no right to work and support himself in the UK. Norbert left behind a wife, 3 daughters and a young son all of whom he has not seen since arriving in the UK more than 8 years ago.
He survived these years of uncertainty by sheer determination, ingenuity and not a little luck. A kind and generous man, I hope that these images show a little of the human cost the complex asylum system has on individuals left in limbo for such long periods of time, not only to their physical circumstance but their mental condition as well.
Whilst not always a prominent issue in the media, the issue of asylum in the UK has always created a wealth of opinions and the issue has never really gone away, always lingering under the surface in the vacuum created by complex and chaotic government policy. In this vacuum individual stories are often overlooked and it was my intention with this project to bring attention back to individuals and emphasise the loneliness and sense of isolation felt by a vast number of people living in this situation in the UK today.
Eastern Promises, Western Dreams
Travelling overland from Moscow to Bangkok in 2010 passing through 7 countries, Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.
'And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars'
- Banjo Paterson
These images represent my reflections on time spent fruit-picking and farm labouring in Australia. At once a beautiful and light soaked land, this is also a hard and desolate country.