Olympic Voices Project

During the summer of 2012 I was invited to participate in Providence Row's Olympic Voices project, exploring homelessness and social issues around the London Olympics. People with experience of homelessness and members of the local community worked closely with producer Shiraz Bayjoo to create documentary videos, stories and photographic works portraying a unique historical viewpoint of the Games.

Rich Mix Exhibition

The summation of this collaboration is on display at the Rich Mix gallery in London, from Wed 14 November - Wed 28 November.

The free exhibition features a timeline of diaries, images, testimonials, and videos from project participants, plus contributions from members of the Crisis Skylight photography group. It is also part of the 2012 international photography festival Photomonth East London.

Reaching The Tipping Point

Below is my short photo-story charting significant events during the Cultural Olympiad period 2008-2012, titled ‘Reaching The Tipping Point’. The piano soundtrack is by Alex Due, you can discover more of his CC-licensed compositions via his SoundCloud channel.

Also there are some images from my photographic series documenting the ‘Passion and Performance’ seen on London’s streets during the Olympics. You can view more of these images with titles and annotations via this online gallery.

The works reflect upon the build up to social change and the actual point of transition - the moment of truth. They also present a lighthearted and multi-layered view of the phrase tipping point. With any image try asking yourself: ‘Is there a tipping point here?’ or ‘Is there a deeper truth to be understood here?’

Reaching The Tipping Point by David Holmes from David Holmes on Vimeo.

Background to photography

The London Olympics and Paralympics presented a range of photographic opportunities and viewpoints to explore. From changes in the environment cosmetically such as advertising, lighting, signs and symbols, to the way people behaved and interacted in public spaces.

An unprecedented amount of events were taking place all over London, many of which were available free of charge to the general public. They included sporting occasions, art and culture exhibitions, street and theatre performances. Generally these activities conjured an atmosphere of good humour and togetherness often referred to as the feel good factor or people power.

I regularly journeyed from east London to the South Bank to photograph the people and attractions there. Using public transport from my home to Tower Bridge and then by foot across the Thames, I would travel up the riverbank through Southwark to Lambeth and the Westminster Bridge. Between both crossing points there was much to see and enjoy by way of public shows and entertainment.

I’m reminded of the parallels between a similar journey taken by Londoners some four hundred years earlier. People in Shakespeare’s time would have travelled across London Bridge to the Globe playhouse and nearby bear-baiting arena for entertainment. The bridge may well have been adorned with the remnants of another popular spectacle, that of public executions. These attractions were interconnected and in competition with one another. Incidentally many of Shakespeare's plays were originally staged at the Curtain theatre in London’s East End.

Including the South Bank, I chose to photograph activities taking place in other popular locations across London such as Canary Wharf, Greenwich, Hyde Park, Kensington, and Soho. As expected, digital photography was commonplace during London 2012, as was the sharing of images via the Internet on social media platforms. The ubiquity of image devices made taking pictures quite an open and casual affair, more so than was usual in these locations and public spaces generally.

Due to the large scale of these special olympic events I sensed a positive change in the mood of the public on the streets. I wondered if anything significant would come of this change in terms of something lasting, productive and beneficial. Perhaps a tipping point. Because of the immense organisational obstacles I felt people must have learned much about the nature of cooperation and that this would be to the common good. It was clear that the Games and any direct legacy would prove historically enlightening to later generations.

Finally

Big thanks to OV producer Shiraz Bayjoo, all the dedicated project participants, the helpful staff at Providence Row and sponsors Reed Smith. Also to Crisis creative arts manager - Paula Lonergan.

Related Reading

Malcolm Gladwell's book about the tipping point phenomenon is a popular read and his 2006 article from the New Yorker 'Million Dollar Murray' sheds light on 'why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than to manage'.

'Art in Crisis' Exhibition

Over 50 artists are showing their artworks in a new exhibition starting today at the homeless charity Crisis's Bermondsey Project Space, London. It coincides with shocking news of a 23% rise in official figures for rough sleeping indicating the tip of a deep and growing homelessness problem throughout the UK.

The 'Art in Crisis' exhibition showcases art created by talented Crisis Skylight members - people that have been affected by homelessness, and artists campaigning to raise awareness of issues connected to homelessness. 

For the first time this special exhibition brings together a wide range of original artworks including paintings, photographs, puppets, and sculptures. Most of the works are for sale and all proceeds go directly to the artist.

I have 26 photographic images on display taken from my VAA Project, shown recently for the 'Collective Exchange' exhibition at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Some of the images appear below, they feature architectural landmarks around London's Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs, and the London Eye. For many people, these iconic structures represent the boundaries of an impenetrable alien world they find themselves within but not really a part of - the inescapable intangible.

Also, long-term Crisis volunteer and photographer Mark Burton is showing a selection of large scale photographic portraits. Mark was given permission to photograph 'Guests and Volunteers' inside the Crisis Rough Sleepers’ Centre in London, which operates over the Christmas period.

Team

Along with all the artists involved I'd like to thank the following people for their hard work in making this exhibition flow:

Crisis Creative Arts Manager - Paula Lonergan

Art Technician & Web Developer - Taidgh Corcoran

Exhibition Designer - Richard Knowles Mortar&Pestle Studio 

Exhibition Details

Situated on the ground floor, the spacious warehouse gallery provides multiple exhibit spaces, a seating area and essential public amenities. There is a flight of stairs leading up to the main entrance. The multi-disciplinary exhibition runs from 24 Feb - 4 Mar, 2012. Admission is free.

Open Thursdays to Sundays 1 - 6pm or by appointment. Telephone: 020 7036 241

Venue: Bermondsey Project Space Unit 7, 46 Willow Walk, Bermondsey, SE1 5SF, London

Bermondsey Project Space (Facebook) - includes map.

Campaign to Help the Homeless

If you would like to help people affected by homelessness Crisis offers a variety of ways to do it. You can join artists like Ed Sheeran and show your support for the current Crisis campaign 'No One Turned Away' by signing the simple online petition. Every signature makes a difference.

'Collective Exchange' - A Collaborative Art Exhibition

Since October 2011, myself and four other artists have been taking part in a London based collaborative art project called 'Collective Exchange'. Working with University of the Arts London and national homeless charity Crisis Skylight, we have been given an opportunity to develop our critical thinking and artistic practice through the process of researching and developing new artwork.

The results of this collaboration form the Collective Exchange Exhibition which goes on view in the entrance gallery at Central Saint Martins Back Hill Site from Friday 10-17 February, 2012 during normal daytime opening hours.

The Preview and Artists’ Talks will be held on Thursday 9 February 6-8pm and admission is free on all days.

The full address is: Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London, 10 Back Hill, London EC1R 5LQ. 

Visualizing Ambiguity in Architecture

My contribution is photographic and explores themes of ambiguity in architecture. Most of the digital images combine long exposure times with compound camera movements to generate new forms, colours, and textures. Here are 10 of the 26 images I have on display as prints and digital media. There's further information about the images on my Behance Project Page 

Special thanks to the following people for their expertise, enthusiasm and continued support.

Project Tutors: Caroline Stevenson, Shiraz Bayjoo

Crisis Creative Arts Manager: Paula Lonergan

Art Technician: James Thomas

Exhibiting Artists

‘Collective Exchange’ refers to the conversations between the artists and tutors over the past few months that have inspired new ideas and helped their work to evolve. The artists are:

Stewart Ewin

Tom Hair

David Holmes

Conleth Moran

David Stark