Moving Stories

There is no "us and them" – there is only us, in all our exquisite diversity. 

But in an age when hostility against the "other" is on the rise, it is more important than ever to reconnect to our ability to empathise, and realise "them" are just "us" in different packaging.

Trump, Brexit, the echo-chamber effect created by social (and unsocial) media: the politics on both sides of the Atlantic over the last couple of years has promoted fear, xenophobia and racism. Sometimes it's felt like the past 50 years of striving towards equality and a better humanity has been eroded at a frightening pace.

Under these circumstances it's very easy to feel powerless. I can vote once every few years, but is that really it? I'm only a photographer, not a rich and powerful media magnate.

What I can do, however, is lend my voice to the many others that challenge this way of viewing the world.

This idea led me to meeting up with Moxie DePaulitte, visionary and founder of MOOL (Massive Outpouring of Love) – an organisation dedicated to helping refugees, asylum seekers and the displaced, and promoting human kindness at every turn.

Portrait photography has the power to allow us to look at faces and examine the similarities and differences, without worrying about someone being embarrassed by us staring at them. And when we are given that opportunity to really study the face in front of us, it helps reconnect us to our humanity – to identify and empathise with the person who occupies it.

As Moxie and I started exploring the concepts, the ideas concentrated around the notion of migration and why anyone leaves the place they grew up to resettle in a place much less familiar. 

There are so many reasons – voluntarily, involuntary, running from, running to, family matters, work opportunities, fear, love – in fact no two stories are identical.

So then we looked at the idea of interviewing people who have moved to this area – be it from the other side of the country or the other side of the world – and creating a soundscape to go along with the photos.

As the word went out we were looking for people to take part in the "Moving Stories" project, Lucy Renwick got in touch with the idea to compose several pieces of music, based on the themes and comments from the interviews.

Along with the input from choirmaster, Kate Howard, these were eventually performed by a choir of volunteers, along with spoken word pieces, while the photos were projected in the background, for a series of events over Refugee Week in 2018