Our Lives, Our Community, Our Voice: Participatory Photography Exhibition

A couple weeks ago, ‘Our Lives, Our Community, Our Voice’ – a participatory photography group, run by social enterprise Meridian RAW – exhibited their photography in the Glorious Gallery. Selected from wider collections, each photograph told a story, letting viewers linger over each piece.

Resting on the wall by the door was the work of Vina Flores, focusing on two young children. One was of a child playing outside, the purple of her dress delicately echoed in the purple of the flowers surrounding her.

Another striking photograph was of an urban sunset, taken by Claire Williams. ‘This project got me off my butt for a bit every evening when I went to take a picture from the window of my building’ reads its caption.

Jill Ashby’s photos of the Golowan festival were full of life, colour and mid-action shots. Well-placed next to these was Gloria Lewis’ work titled ‘Graveyard’, showing a beautiful, desolate grave, entombed in vines and moss.

Making many smile was Wayne Bennet’s caption, ‘1974 or 2014?’, his piece portraying two young men, deep in conversation, underground at The Cavern.

On the other wall sat Ismat Badal’s photograph. Badal portrayed a young child on a train, buildings flying past, the child’s thoughtful face reflected on the window. An eye-cast away was Amparo Iglesias’ photograph, warming the soul on a winter’s day with the aptly-titled ‘California in the UK’. Wet-suit wearing surfers walk along a sunny beach, their reflections strewn across the sand in Iglesias’ shot.

Clive Chilvers, founder and director of Meridian RAW, helped run the participatory workshop at St. Sidwell’s street, encouraging individuals from underprivileged societies, or those who are socially excluded, to share their experiences through pictures.

“You can get a very different message from someone who’s maybe living through an issue,” Clive explained. “It gives people the opportunity to tell others, ‘this is the way I live my life’. Since I know the stories behind the photos and the photographers, there are no favourite photos, but stories that stuck out. They’re all beautiful in their own way – take the ones on the beach, for example, with the reflections – I think they’re just wonderful.”

Flipping through the open guest-book at the exhibition, one little note read ‘smashing stuff!’ – which sums it all up quite perfectly, we think.

Clive is also currently working on a ‘Gratitude in Recovery’ project, where those who have suffered with drug or alcohol abuse share their recovery journey by taking one photo of one thing they’re grateful for each day. You can find out more about this, as well as future projects and exhibitions, at MeridianRaw.com

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