* Second exhibition! 30 May - 25 June 2023, James Street Tavern, James St in east Oxford every day except Mondays. Come along and enjoy a beer at the same time!*
My original objective with this project was to photograph every household living on Divinity Road, Oxford, over about a three year period. I started in July 2018. But Covid intervened. The subjects could be individuals, couples, families, or groups of people living in the same house such as students. Divinity Road is a long street, a diverse one (31 different nationalities and counting) and a notoriously transient one. A number of the household portraits reflect that transience; people moving - about to leave the country, moving away, being evicted, moving in, or moving from one house to another.
Divinity Road was identified in 2006 by market research company CACI as the street with the widest range of household incomes in England. So issues of wealth, poverty, class, race, and gender are all apparent in this series, and I am conscious that the street seems to be becoming both richer and poorer at the same time - like the rest of the country. In that sense this series is a microcosm of something happening all over the country. This micro-portrait perhaps tells us something about our wider condition. As a resident for well over 30 years, I have been priviledged to be able to engage with fellow residents in this project, which could only have come about with their active participation.
So while it is primarily a photography project, but it is also a slice of social history in the making, and a community-building project which draws out the strengths and challenges of living on the street through the engagement with its residents. Through this project (which has the support of the local residents association DRARA, and Midcounties Co-op) I hope that more people will recognise each other and perhaps come to understand better the dynamics of the street they live on.
Pictures are taken in people's homes, in front of them, in their gardens, at work, in the nearby park or churchyard, on their allotment, or somewhere else nearby that has meaning for them. There are also some street shots and others of our local Co-op. With the Covid-19 pandemic from March 2020 I diversified into looking at the street itself in more detail, with three new sections: 'Looking at the overlooked', 'Cars' and 'Street: Food' as well as the response of the street to the pandemic itself. Portraits taken during this period (households 79 -112) were taken respecting the 'social distancing' and related rules in place at the time the photographs were taken.
You are welcome to leave a public comment on any photo. You can also send me feedback on the project as a whole, or in person if you don't want your comment to be public. I look forward to hearing from you and I hope you enjoy the pictures!
Here are the photos from the four years of the project. Having reached the milestone of 120 households I have now wrapped up the project. A final exhibition 'We are Divinity Road' was held 12-15 May 2022 on the outside of the Co-op store at the bottom of the street. Here is the Oxford Mail coverage. A smaller version of the exhibition is showing at the James Street Tavern on James St in east Oxford from 30 May-25 June 2023.
What you see below are like book 'front covers'. Click on any one of them to view the photos themselves. I will post new images of sitters and street scenes about every couple of months from now on until it's complete. For those of a technical bent, up to November 2018 I was using a Canon EOS 1300D camera but I've graduated to a Canon EOS5D Mark 3, using a 24-105mm lens, apart from a few of the street photographs, which were taken on my phone.