I’m delighted to announce that my exhibition – The Art of Getting By – will open the 8th Jersey Amnesty International Human Rights Festival where I’ll be doing some teaching and workshops.
The French, as always have a word for it. Débrouillardise. The art of getting by – resourcefulness – surviving and laughing. I heard it first in French Africa in the ‘90s and I realised that I have been trying over the last two decades (even before I really knew the word) to make it a motif in the reportage that I made in even the most difficult circumstances. It is no less than the human condition – why shouldn’t the poor, the maimed, the brutalised somehow steal a smile, fall in love? A determination to live. To be normal. To be just like us.
These images are not romantic – although I hope that some are beautiful – rather they reflect the everyday struggles of common people. They also aren’t meant as rosy depictions of poverty from an outsider and they aren’t meant to patronise. I have worked consistently in the Developing World for most of my career and that was a choice made from the low horizons of my own childhood and the desire to escape the grey landscape of a Hackney past.
I consciously sought difference but found similarity and common ground.
These images are taken from stories from many countries. They show people touched by war and poverty living as best they can. They are small stories from larger narratives and by and large show small lives but they are no less important for that.
For me, this is a kind of retrospective: photographs of what I have tried to see – sometimes forced myself to see – to remember that the world is not dark, dangerous and other, but that it is beautiful and full of life.
You just have to know where to look.