If these walls could talk

Local photographers showcase work in Tottenham Talking exhibition

A resident views the exhibition
All photos courtesy of Stephen Furner

By Stephen Furner

It was another lockdown Zoom call. As always there was frustration. We did not want to spend time just chatting on Zoom about the few opportunities where someone had managed to get a couple of snaps while out exercising. We wanted to get out and do photography as a group.

In the discussion we talked about how there hadn’t been any opportunity for a physical gallery exhibition this year. A member pointed out that there were loads of empty walls in the supported housing complex for older people he had recently visited. Another commented that it must be really dull being stuck inside, unable to go out and with nothing interesting on the walls to look at. This was where two plus two became four.

As a photography club we had a ready supply of interesting photographs and here were local buildings with people in them who could benefit from seeing them. It was in this tense and unlikely setting that the first seeds of a collaboration between the Tottenham Photography Club and housing organisation Homes for Haringey (HfH) emerged.

It’s easy to identify an opportunity but the path to implementation was not always so straightforward. How on earth do we bring our photographs and their potential local audience together? We needed to find a contact who could open the door to a local supported housing complex and be happy to let us in with an armful of photos to hang on the walls.

After several conversations and various email exchanges we found ourselves trying to explain our ideas to Jessica Amery, a projects and activities coordinator at HfH. She did not say ‘no’. Working in close collaboration with HfH, we forged a vague bundle of ideas and good will about hanging pictures, into the reality of the Tottenham Talking exhibition at Lowry House.

An open call was made to the photographers in the club for images in keeping with the theme of photos of Tottenham by people from Tottenham. There were more than 50 images submitted, with a final 20 selected for the exhibition. Not only did these images need to meet the usual high quality criteria for an exhibition print but they also needed to be relevant to their primary audience (the residents of the housing complex), and the setting in which they were being placed.

Hanging photos at Lowry House

Lowry House residents stopped and looked at the photos as they were being hung up on the walls of the lobby area, commenting on how nice they looked, telling Jessica they wanted to “keep them up forever”. The residents say the photos make the space feel more ‘homey’, and that they didn’t realise there was so much around them to see in Tottenham.

Residents view sights of Tottenham at the opening of the exhibition

It’s not only the residents who like the photos, people working on site are also enjoying this colourful addition to the building complex. The exhibition has been quite transformational for all those involved.

The next steps currently planned are to host an open house photography event next month at Lowry House, when residents can invite their loved ones to see their photos and have a professional photo taken together.

For more information: tottenhamphotographyclub.org

Click here to see some of the images from the Tottenham Talking exhibition.

Tottenham Talking runs till Monday 2nd August. Lowry House hub and cluster residents are welcome to visit the exhibition.

Viewings must be booked in advance. Covid-19 safety measures will be in place. Contact Jessica Amery if you’d like to attend. Email: jessica@homesforharingey.org or call 07815 653 631

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