A lovely lady and her three canine companions attending the local market.
I shot this image of my mum in a brief moment of sun during a very dreary British summer. A talented gardener, she devotes most of her days to nurturing and cultivating.
This work uncovers the surreal and continuous presence of grief, memory and trauma in the everyday. Causing hysteria to take form. Creating space to expose and understand the waves of grief that have already drowned me. Initial fears and panic have transformed into a floating sensation, a void.
This mortality has created in me a desire for definition, seeking the end to grief. Through this exploration and its reflections, I have come to understand that I will never feel dry again.
From the series Construct, which was created with over 50 people experiencing homelessness in Birmingham, commissioned by Grain Projects. In the first year, the artist spent time getting to know the staff and individuals associated with SIFA Fireside, a charity that supports homeless people in leading healthier and happier lives, by working in the kitchen and serving meals. He then invited people to take cameras away to capture their experiences, meeting with participants regularly to discuss their images and to record conversations. During the Covid pandemic and associated lockdowns, workshops and conversations were continued online. Luvera also invited participants to learn how to use digital medium format equipment, to create an assisted self-portrait. To make an assisted self-portrait, the artist meets regularly with the participant in locations that are significant to them. The final images for use in exhibition and publication are selected by the participant.
In the heart of Birmingham there is a community centred on challenging the narrative around gender, race and religion. Run by head coach Binni, Muslim Girls Fence strives to teach traditional fencing at a grassroots level, helping local women to empower themselves through a sport normally reserved for the upper class. The work does not stop at fencing though – the group is there to help the women reflect on their own identities and inspire a larger conversation in the community.
Within my projects about motherhood I have a sub-series called Portrait of a Mother of a... where I photographed myself monthly, 20 plus times, when my daughter/s were a month older.
This is a self-portrait where I am breastfeeding my younger daughter, L, when she was 15 months old. I had a difficult breastfeeding journey with my first, B, and we stopped when she was around six months old, when she started to refuse to feed. With L, everything about it has been so much easier and I wanted to celebrate the ‘milestone’ of still breastfeeding her at 15 months as I sensed the end might be near and I could not have imagined when she was born that I would still be feeding her in 2023.
I do not show my daughters’ faces within my work, so this also works well to hide L’s face. I like that she is playing with my lips, as since a young age she has pulled my hair, put her toes within my hair or interacted with me in some additional way while breastfeeding. It also shows the reality of motherhood.
From the series There is No Grief Without Love. Mark lost his son in a motorbike accident and he found it hard to grieve: “It’s not just being a man, some people just don’t know how to grieve. I’ve never grieved for anybody in the past. I had bottled all the grief for three years and it was eating away inside. You need to be able to talk to people who are in the same situation as you, dealing with the same emotions and so I went to RoadPeace for help and advice.”
Halima and Haleemah are two young Muslim students, aged 17 and 18, who recently moved from Nigeria to the UK to study law and maths. Both expressed how much they are appreciating their new-found independence, but at the detrimental cost of loneliness from not having their families close by. At least they have each other.
Lately, the undeniable connection between women and luxury brands has gained considerable recognition. When we talk about fashion and beauty, it is nearly impossible not to mention women’s hair, makeup, handbags and exquisitely luxurious shoes. Nevertheless, I chose to step outside the conventional and paint a picture that celebrates beauty embraced by simplicity. Nature itself stands as a striking reminder of how beauty can radiate through simplicity alone, unaffected by specific traits that define its appeal. Wherever you cast your gaze, the splendour of nature awaits, and I dare to imagine that women around the world should be celebrated in much the same way.
Naseema never considered herself a strong swimmer. After witnessing her daughter nearly drown on holiday, she realised she needed to overcome her phobia of water. Many years later she joined a women-run boating and sailing club and took a course at the Black Swimming Association and over time found her confidence in the water. She now swims in the sea at beaches around the country.
My daughter Megan, from my Teulu (Welsh for family) series which focuses on a dark and troublesome period of our family life.
Alice Ella is a disabled and chronically ill singer, songwriter and disability advocate. Having been disabled for 20 years, her passion is to help increase awareness and understanding of invisible illnesses and disabilities, and to inspire others. She uses social media platforms to post empowering content, promote disabled body confidence and is a strong advocate of ambulatory wheelchair users.
Poppy is an acrobat.
This portrait is of a couple with Down’s syndrome, taken at their home in Bristol. The image is part of our series Us (2020–2022), which documents love, acceptance and intimacy outside the social norms of age, gender, body image and disability, showcasing couples in their homes.
This was part of a multi-art form collaborative project celebrating womanhood, empowerment and woman’s connection to nature. I turned to dance to tell this story and in among the movement, photographed dancer Leonna Lynch rooted in the landscape.
Edith, 33, at home with her daughter Kay, 18. “Having a lifetime best friend in my daughter is an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. As a young teen mother having someone grow with you from birth, I’m proud of who we’ve both blossomed into.”
Safy is a second-year student at the University of Cambridge. This portrait is from an ongoing collaborative project with students from under-represented backgrounds at Oxbridge.
Dallon and Fraser, both transgender men, share an unbreakable relationship and a love of arts and crafts. Being queer has posed many challenges for them, at times including serious concerns for their safety. They told me that they often feel the need to constrict themselves to the eyes of the world, but when alone, love each other unashamedly.
Priyanka (she/they) plays with their stim toys when they feel sensory overload. Stim toys or fidget toys provide sensory stimulation and help regulate the nervous system of neurodivergent individuals. Priyanka always carries some of their collection of these toys. This portraiture is part of a documentary work focused on the lived experience of neurodivergence, especially the moment of repose. It attempts to illustrate the intricate interplay between neurodivergent individuals and their surroundings.
As I bought tickets for my son and his pals to ride the Waltzer at Taylor’s Funfair, in The Meadows, I told the woman selling the tickets, whose name is Bonnie, that I thought she looked amazing. And with a twinkle in her eye, her reply was, “It’s showbiz”.
This picture is a testament to the brighter side of the queer experience, celebrating the power that emanates from caring for our families, both biological and found. Queer people deserve to love and to be loved.
Gracie, 17, wears a friendship band given to her by her big sister, after she returned from her world travels working as a singer on a cruise ship.
Angelo is a boxer and martial arts trainer. During this shoot he was getting sprayed down with water in between his workout and found a more peaceful moment.
James Clancy and his brother John co-own The Laurieston Bar in Glasgow. I was spending a day in the city doing portraits and street photography and ended up in The Laurieston in the evening. James let me come behind the bar to take some photographs and this is him coming up from the cellar.
Every year on the first of May, people of the Avalon plains gather to celebrate Beltane, the Gaelic observance of the arriving summer. A procession of green-dressed figures parade through the town, leading them to the hill where festivities and dancing begin. Here, I met Niallor with his beautiful towering headdress.
In a historically marginalised part of Stoke-on-Trent, Joseph and his neighbours have embarked on a 100-year plan to defend their land and the wider ecology. A series of actions collectively made to improve the neighbourhood for the community and the planet.
Soniya and her family left Ukraine after the outbreak of war and now live on the Isle of Lewis.
Debbie is a breast cancer survivor and has gone through several surgeries and is going through a lot of ongoing treatment. This image was taken on the day of her fifth round of chemotherapy – her beautiful red hair has begun to fall out and these wisps of hair are left blowing in the wind.
Muriel Tridinnick, who was a Wren (Women’s Royal Naval Service) during the Second World War, sits on her bed at the Rokewood Court Care Home, where she lives.
Karen has been a counsellor most of her adult life, throughout this dealing with her own trauma, one such incident being the death of her ex-husband and the father of her children 18 months ago to suicide. “As a counsellor you do a lot of looking after other people, but I’ve learned that I have to love and be attentive to myself and that’s when I started feeling truly happy. There’s positives to getting older, there’s freedom, you become wise and intuitive. I feel free and content now, but it didn’t come overnight, it’s taken 60 years. Strong and at peace is what I feel now because I paid attention to myself.”
Tessa is a newly qualified midwife. This photo was taken shortly after her final 12-hour shift as a student outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital, where she met all criteria required for completing the practical element of her midwifery course.
2023 celebrates the 75th anniversary of the NHS, as well as the year I became a partner to a student midwife. This has given me a personal insight into how devoted and hard-working the student sector of the NHS is, particularly in terms of the lengthy shifts and unpaid work, as well as the continued pressure to submit their assignments. I wanted to capture the moment my partner finished her student journey and celebrate the incredible work she and all her co-workers do for the public.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital is the largest hospital of its type in Europe and receives approximately 50,000 patients every year, requiring a large, specialised and talented workforce. As part of this workforce, there are many students shadowing qualified midwives, providing an environment for learning and giving them the opportunity to put their theory into practice.
Throughout placement, students are required to work over 2,000 hours across their three years of study before they can qualify. These hours are not compensated through salary, but help in obtaining the pre-registration requirements for becoming a midwife; this includes the facilitation of 40 vaginal births.
Tessa is an incredibly passionate and talented student midwife and has had a huge impact already on people’s birthing experiences. She moved to Liverpool specifically for this course and was hoping her placement was at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, due to it being a demanding health centre, as it would teach her a huge amount about the profession.
This is my friend Maya, who is a performing arts student at Chickenshed Youth Theatre. She is also a passionate dancer and model. Having worked for esteemed clients such as Nike and CBBC, her remarkable achievements stand as a testament to her unwavering dedication and undeniable talent.
Captured Essence: A Glimpse into Destiny Adeyemi’s Multifaceted Soul.
In this compelling portrait, I present Destiny Adeyemi, a multi-talented individual whose charisma knows no bounds. Poet and occasional model, Destiny’s enigmatic presence graces this frame, revealing a glimpse of their captivating world. Collaborating with the skilled hands of makeup artist Phoebe Walkers and hairstylist Claire Moore, we embarked on a creative journey within the confines of my London studio.
Destiny’s portrait represents an unfiltered tableau, a tapestry woven from the threads of her diverse talents. The focal point is their hair – an intricate cascade that serves as a visual metaphor for the intertwining pathways of their artistic pursuits. The analogue medium, cherished for its ability to embrace the spectrum of colours and render skin tones with authenticity, lent its timeless charm to the scene. Bathed in natural daylight, the portrait exudes a classic allure, invoking a sense of nostalgia.
Deliberately composed, the photograph invites viewers to partake in a moment of serene contemplation. As if seated beside Destiny, one cannot help but be drawn into their world – a realm of strength and conviction that resonates beyond the image. This portrait, born from collaboration and creativity, encapsulates not only the subject’s essence, but also the essence of artistry itself.
In this portrait, Destiny Adeyemi’s essence is frozen in time, an honest portrayal of their talents, their strength, and the unspoken power of their spirit.
At Anime Con, Ruby and Emma were shy but came alive in costume. Having spent months preparing, they were still unsure whether they felt good enough on the day. Friends supported each other in their shared interests, found ways to express themselves with the comfort of a mask and gained solace in like-minded individuals.
Margaret Tyler is a royal collector who has dedicated her life to the Royal Family. I photographed Margaret a few months before the Queen’s passing.
Lilei, DT and Ling captured during the Women’s World Cup 2023 final at a screening in London. I thought their energy really represented the calm, positive, kind and exciting vibes of the day. Friends and families gathered at the screening with picnic blankets and it was a special and refreshing way to watch and experience football.
Aziz’s story touched me deeply and I really wanted to meet him to take portraits. He left his Syrian homeland at 20 years old, making a perilous journey across Europe to eventually be granted asylum in Germany. Despite having no previous experience, and unable to speak the language, within months he began his love affair with acting and a few years later found himself starring in international productions. I met him while he was in the UK promoting his role in the British-French TV series Liaison.
Bill Nighy, photographed at the Ham Yard Hotel, Piccadilly, for the Los Angeles Times. Never meet your heroes, unless it’s Bill. Bill’s cool.
This image was taken on commission for Versus. Reiss visited his primary school on the Aylesbury Estate, where he grew up, to open their new football pitch.
Lily Allen, photographed at the Duke of York’s Theatre ahead of her final few weeks starring in The Pillowman – a transitional moment in her career, making the move from pop star to actor. Shot for The New York Times for a piece titled Lily Allen’s Second Act.
Take Care of Your Brother is a series of portraits of brothers in an outside space in London that means something to them. It aims to question what care and closeness look like between two brothers. Societally, the word care and sisterhood go together without question because it is enveloped by femininity, but care and brotherhood are rarely heard together. Words and images shape our society and I believe that in a time, where women and LGBTQIA+ rights are under threat across the world because of a patriarchal system, we could use a shift in narrative about masculinity. I want young boys to see images of two men showing closeness and softness towards each other without it being related to their sexuality, just comfort. I want these photoshoots to hold a space for them; the next hour is about them and their brotherhood, what do they think this relationship looks like? How do they want to show it?
This is a portrait of Abdul and Hakim in the park local to the flat they bought together, Brockwell Park in south London. They are the first two brothers I photographed and the ones that made me start this series. Abdul is my partner and we live with his brother, Hakim. My brothers left the house when I was seven years old so I did not get to see them a lot together day-to-day. Living with these two now was the first time I could see two brothers in their day-to-day life, how they interact with each other and how they show each other care and comfort.
Patrick Sr emigrated from his home country Trinidad in Trinidad & Tobago over 50 years ago. He built a community in his barber shop with his son, Patrick Jr. They welcome Caribbean men like themselves and his positive global reach is seen by the currencies on the wall.
Jess, a dedicated midwife, faced her own pregnancy complication, leading to an emergency C-section at just 32 weeks gestation amid the pandemic, bringing Red into the world. This poignant moment was captured as part of my A Moment in Time project, which aimed to document the resilience of NHS frontliners during the Covid-19 crisis.
You will usually find my grandfather wearing one of two hats.
One is the Pakol (pictured), a traditional cap worn by men from all over the Indian subcontinent, a visual marker of the place he once called home before coming to Britain in the 1970s.
The other is a Karakul, deep black in colour, a symbol of devotion to a spiritual dynasty based in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, of which he is a fiercely loyal follower.
To me, these two hats neatly encompass the two sides of his personality I have come to know over the years. One is that of the kind and loving grandfather, the man who left home at age 16 to put down roots in a strange place. He is an entrepreneur who made good on the opportunities this country offered him, and still goes above and beyond to provide comfort and security for his family.
The other is the stern head of the tribe, the stringent stickler for the rules. This man has come to realise that the sole purpose of this life is to prepare for what comes next, and does his best to remind others of this fatal truth at every opportunity.
Two hats, two sides of the same coin.
In July 2022, my wife, after dealing with mild alopecia for most of her adulthood, discovered that her hair was falling out in clumps. This was by far the most difficult period we have ever had in our marriage and over the last year my wife has come to terms with her situation and, in my view, become so much more powerful. On a sunny day at home in summer 2023, I wandered into the garden and saw her in this serene position, her fair skin perfectly contrasting with the dark background of the garden in the midday sun. To me, it exudes a peace, which has taken some time to achieve.
I have lived in Brixton for 15 years. I met this little boy at the court where I play some Sundays. Anyone can join the games; boys or girls, young and old, friends, strangers. He was there playing basketball in his socks
on a summer evening.
Every photograph hides a unique tale, and this rings especially true when capturing the vibrant individuals within the LGBTQ+ community.
I recently had the privilege of teaming up with the MS Society to document the Black Pride event at London Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London. The day unfolded beautifully, blessed with glorious weather and the infectious energy, spirit and pure joy radiating from everyone who graced the event.
My aim was to encapsulate a diverse array of remarkable personalities at the gathering. The flamboyance, the kaleidoscope of colours and the myriad distinct styles captivated me. It seemed as if each attendee was dressed to express themselves uniquely. Dressed to frill!
Rather than publish their personal stories or names (names are known), I have deliberately chosen not to. My hope was to leave the interpretation up to you, the viewer. I invite you to draw your own conclusions about the intriguing individuals featured in my photographs.
Mrs Aldred in blue, with directions to the bluebell flower fields on a spring day.
I discovered triplets Frankie, Billie and Ashlee via Instagram and found they lived just down the road from me. I contacted their mum and I spent the morning with them wandering around Brockley, south-east London, together.
I find myself fascinated with what lies within the complexities of human identity, especially when you are a twin or triplet sibling. In this photograph, I had the privilege of capturing the essence of teenage triplets, each unique in their own right, yet undeniably connected by the unbreakable bond of shared experiences.
This image is part of my long-term project A Brighter Sun, documenting the remnants of the Caribbean exodus in east London while exploring and examining my own sense of belonging and estrangement in this city and country I have migrated to. I encountered Abraham while walking in Hackney Marshes. He was with a friend and his durag and big earring drew my attention. He spoke to me about his parents and, as I set up my camera, he looked up as a plane flew by. I noticed the big glimmer in his expressive eyes as dusk was setting in. In a second, I thought about how hopeful that image looked. It symbolised, at least in my head, the hopes and dreams of many generations that came after the Windrush ship docked in Tilbury in 1948.
Britain’s first Black and blind female barrister.
Mama and Jess at home. Photographing them together felt like therapy in some way. My sister and mum have had their differences in the past and in our culture feelings are not easily expressed with words, but through small gestures. Both of them are my heroes.
Kito, 18, is a recent graduate of The BRIT School and an aspiring trans model. She is a performer in the ballroom scene, competing under the name Kita007, and is moving to Bristol to join the city’s blossoming ballroom scene. She is photographed at her family home in Forest Gate, east London.
An image taken from the ongoing series Bàbá, Father : a collection of portraits of Black fathers.
Drag king and comedian Pat Riarchy shot in Bethnal Green before their gig.
I met Vernon on Tottenham High Road. We have remained friends ever since. A former professional boxer, Vernon was known as ‘The Entertainer’ for his showmanship and unorthodox fighting style. After visiting Jamaica in 2005, he was denied re-entry to Britain, his home since the age of six. As a result, Vernon became homeless in Jamaica for 13 years; destitute, alone and without access to necessary healthcare. Despite this, he continued to fight, eventually taking the British government to the High Court in a landmark case that achieved justice for himself and countless other victims of the Windrush scandal.
This is master florist Henck Röling preparing floral shields inspired by Cameroonian art for the annual Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens in London.
This is my brother-in-law Rayon and my niece Nylah. We were taking a trip to our local Asda on Old Kent Road. My niece and her father have a very rich bond, which is a joy to observe. While shopping, Nylah was on Rayon’s shoulders playing with his hair. I like the concentration on her face as her father smiles.
John arrived in the UK in 1954 from Barbados in the Caribbean, part of the Windrush Generation who moved to the UK in the 1950s and 60s, hoping for a better life, but often facing persecution and racism. Despite this, they have made lives here and raised families, becoming part of the cultural fabric of the country.
A captured moment of my son Arlo, who has a life-long genetic syndrome called Prader-Willi. Although it affects many parts of his daily life, he never lets it hold him back and is always powering forward with total confidence – never failing to surprise.
Jose is photographed as part of a beauty story. An attempt to further normalise progressive beauty standards and self-expression outside of gender norms.
At Hackney Downs Park, I encountered a group of boys playing basketball. Among them, I was struck by the glowing hair of one of the boys in the golden hour sunset.
Walid Saleh is a refugee from Sudan who lost his leg at the age of 14 when he was involved in an unprovoked gun attack.
It is an inspirational journey of determination – a young person in a new country, overcoming the language barrier, learning to walk again and embracing his disability.
Walid has a focus to qualify for the 100 metres at the Paralympic Games in Paris 2024. I observed and documented Walid in his training environment to illustrate his extraordinary heroism.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Pulford, a remarkable individual who fosters community bonds through his passion for gardening. His commitment to nurturing both plants and relationships within his community is truly inspiring.
Our paths often cross at Brick Lane or Columbia Road Flower Market, where we seize the opportunity to engage in lively conversations. These chance encounters have become a cherished part of my visits to these locations.
On one such occasion, our conversation unfolded on Bethnal Green Road. Inspired by his story and the charisma he exuded, I felt compelled to ask if I could capture his portrait. To my delight, he welcomed the suggestion with a warm smile, allowing me to capture not just his image, but the essence of the community spirit he so diligently cultivates.
I have worked with my friend Speech Debelle on a number of occasions and I always think of her as a real humour factory. In this photograph she does her best to pull the happiest face she knows following a day of fun shooting. I value Speech Debelle’s work ethic, which is one of fun, no matter what she is up to.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep, loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, psychiatrist
Photographing Jo Brand, I felt that deep wisdom is hidden
behind her smile and focus, and vulnerability is a sign
of humanity, beauty and strength. I believe that real
vulnerability creates true connection.
Jacqueline is a crane operator based in London. Before being in the construction industry, Jacqueline used to work in an agency that traced and captured paedophiles. She hopes the images of her encourage other women to apply for jobs in industries that have been traditionally perceived as not suitable for women.
Taken underneath the Westway as part of a portrait project shooting people near the route of London’s elevated road. It was a cold evening and I had asked Edwin to remove his coat.
This is from my ongoing personal project, I See You.
I was going through a tough time personally and started exploring different therapies, seeking professional help and enroling in self-improvement courses. It was during this period that I came up with an idea to merge healing and photography in a practical way. I focus on the lives of Asian immigrants in the UK because I grew up in Taiwan and that is my familiar culture and background. Many of us have moved far from our home countries, adopted English nicknames and adjusted to Western life, but we still carry the stress and challenges from our roots.
I put out a call, inviting strangers to pick a comfortable place, either theirs or mine, and share their stories with me. Afterwards, we would do some breathwork, and I would take portraits of them, even if they ended up in tears. At first, I thought it might sound strange and that no one would sign up. Who wants to spill their darkest or most painful stories to a stranger and then have their tearful face photographed? But surprisingly, I received an overwhelming response and the experience turned out to be profoundly meaningful.
During the breathwork, I encouraged participants to repeat a mantra, one that resonates especially within the Asian mentality: ‘I see you’. In a culture where we often conceal our vulnerability, put on a brave face and avoid burdening others with our worries, this exercise aimed to help them rediscover their self-worth: ‘I see you’. ‘I love you’. ‘I am enough’.
During the breathwork, most of them could not hold back their tears and they were grateful for finally having a chance to let out what they had bottled up for so long.
As a photographer, I often wonder what sets us apart from artificial intelligence. This project shows that our unique human quality is our ability to connect with one another. In our shared moments, we find the true depth of our humanity.
The #NoMoreLyes campaign, which calls for an end to toxic products being sold to Black women, is spearheaded by UK feminist campaign group Level Up. It has a successful track record in winning gender justice campaigns, including introducing the UK’s first media guidelines on reporting domestic abuse deaths, and successfully removing diet pill and plastic surgery adverts targeted at young women.
Our photoshoot with disabled models was not just about capturing aesthetically pleasing images; it was about capturing hearts, minds and narratives. By portraying the strength, resilience, and unique stories of disabled models, we took a step towards redefining societal norms and promoting a world where every individual feels seen, valued and empowered. Through these images, we hope to inspire change, create conversations and foster a more inclusive and accepting society for all.
Don Letts for BBC Radio 6 Music.
Nasima, Shireen and Safina are part of Ananna, a Manchester-based independent organisation empowering and supporting vulnerable women from ethnic minorities for over 30 years. The portrait is part of my series Hope. Despair. Miracles. (2019–2023), a project that offers recognition to grassroots and individuals making a real difference in Longsight, the working-class multi-ethnic neighbourhood where I live in south-east Manchester.
Nadia, with her small team, advocates and inspires women from ethnic minorities to become confident and independent. They offer a range of services and encourage the organisation to be led by the women they support. The portrait is part of my series
Hope. Despair. Miracles.
I met Lana sitting by the river. She often cycles to this place for the peace and quiet – as we spoke we could hear a cuckoo calling from the nearby wood. She told me she was contemplating her future and thinking about moving to London to study something creative.
A woman wearing traditional Kerala wedding attire in Campbell Park.
Five Ukrainian women (left to right: Olena, Paulina, Valentyna, Tanya and Valeria) on Dartmoor, Devon, after their first summer in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme.
Eniola moved to Newcastle from Nigeria, just a couple of months before the shoot, to study.
Cris and his family are asylum seekers from Nicaragua. They have been settled in Ashington for just over a year. I met them through the weekly drop-in at our local church hosted by Northumberland County of Sanctuary (NCOS). They say one of the toughest things about living in Ashington is the language barrier; not only do they need to learn English, but they are also competing with a very broad, fast-spoken local dialect.
Frustrated by the biased opinions of the media towards those seeking asylum in the UK, I journeyed back to my hometown of Ashington to tell a different side of the story. For three months, I lived out of my car, enjoying the generosity of new and old friends, documenting our time together. I spent much of this time with NCOS – a charity set up to welcome refugees and asylum seekers who were being sent to north-east England to live. The resulting project, Hjem, paints a poetic picture, not only of those seeking asylum, but also of the hospitality and kindness of the communities welcoming them with open arms.
Every summer, NCOS runs a programme of events and trips around Northumberland and the north-east. The months I worked on this project were very nostalgic of my school summer holidays, swimming in the sea, the rivers, running around castles, coastline and countryside. All while learning of one another’s cultures and customs.
Hjem (pronounced Yem) means home in our local dialect and is actually Danish; this Nordic word has stuck to our language, likely since the time of the Vikings.
Hjem is an exchange of care and culture, capturing the importance of community and the love we are all capable of.
David is a beekeeper who looks after native English bees on a beautiful farm on top of a hill overlooking the countryside. He began keeping bees in 1974 and has continued to do this for most of his life. He produces honey which he takes to farm shops and small health food stores. He is very passionate about the importance of bees and their role in the ecosystem and environment.
“My dad hasn’t seen his family for 15 years, it is hard for my parents. But when something is so special to you, you will never forget, that feeling is always there. When I was about five we moved from Eritrea to Sudan because the government was starting a conflict in Eritrea. There is still war although it is much calmer now. I moved here when I was nine. When you leave your country to move to another country, you think, ‘How will I live there? What is it going to be like in years to come? Am I going to be the same person?’ I have changed a little – like my hobbies. I love football, I support Liverpool, but in Sudan it was all school. A lot of things surprised me about this country. School is better here, you learn more. Back home in Eritrea, it is about learning the history and that is it, they don’t want you to think about anything else. Maths is my favourite subject and I want to be 60 a medical professor. It has been my dream from a young age.”
This portrait of my dad with my mum’s clothes pinned to him is from my series Mum’s Possessions. I lost my mum to breast cancer and have kept hold of many of her belongings.
In June 1863, two years after Lagos Island was ceded to the British Empire by King Dosunmu under the threat of bombardment, what would become the West African Frontier Force was formed. It was made up of 30 tribes men who were tasked with the responsibility of protecting the Empire’s interest inland, safeguarding the inhabitants of Lagos from kidnappers and putting an end to the slave trade.
Who would have imagined that these 30 trained soldiers would grow into a formidable fighting force 50 years later? One that would be called upon by the British Empire to fight in three different European wars, in which they came out triumphant.
Many of these brave Nigerian soldiers left their families and loved ones to heed the call of the Empire, which for many would have been their last trek, their last fight, their last expedition far away from their motherland never to return. For the sake of the Empire, but most importantly their family, communities and nation.
Their devotion to the Empire and the vivid tapestry of life they wove cannot be conveyed through words alone, it must be etched in the annals of history through their deeds. They were, without a doubt, our triumphant ancestors.
On a mercifully sunny day in England, I went to some gardens with a small theatre company and the actresses starring in their newest play: a lesbian love story that spanned across the ages. They were such fun to be with. We put on some music and they danced in the long grasses of the gardens. One of them was Kalifa, whose skin seemed to take on a beautiful golden glow in the sunlight. There was something about this moment in particular, dreamlike and hopeful, that I felt resembled what our bigger goal was as individuals, which was to tell a story, each in our own way, but sharing that story together. Plus is there anything more British than dancing in a field?
Tiegan helps support her nan and grandad in caring for her little brother Alfie. Alfie has a cleft palate and Pierre Robin syndrome. He showed me that one little thing can change your whole life.
I made this portrait of Scarlett moments before she ascended to 15,000 feet to jump out of a plane in drag to raise money for the Princess Alice Hospice. “As a drag queen you almost have a need to feel the thrill because that’s what going on stage is; it’s a feeling of excitement, a buzz.” Scarlett saw first-hand the positive impact hospice care can have on the precious end stages of life, having lost her muma month before the jump.
A fabulous lady fronting one of the seafood stalls on Scarborough’s seafront.
This is from the series Of-Land. In 2022 and 2023, I immersed myself in an off-grid community in the Scottish Highlands. What began as a photography project transformed into a profound personal journey.
Living authentically among this community, I absorbed their sustainable practices, volunteering in their gardens and cultivating vegetables. The lines between their life and mine blurred, and my London existence faded.
Photography evolved from a medium to a vehicle for exploration and connection. Portraits emerged naturally, guided by my camera, an extension of myself. I lived in a self-built campervan, fully immersing myself in their daily lives and harmony with nature.
The resulting photographs capture the authenticity of this experience, conveying their resilience and interconnectedness. This project signifies my growth as an artist and an individual, delving into the depths of human connection.
I aspire to inspire others to explore their relationship with nature, community and self. Through my photography, I aim to ignite curiosity, empathy and understanding, bridging gaps between different worlds.
My time in the Scottish Highlands was not just a photographic expedition, but a transformative chapter in my life’s story, reminding me of the profound beauty in the way of life embraced by this off-grid community.
This image is of Rory, a young participant in the Up Helly Aa festival in the south mainland of Shetland. Up Helly Aa festivals represent the Viking New Year, a way of ushering in the lightness from the long, dark Shetland winter. Each community in Shetland puts on its own unique version of the festival, where the community comes together and appoints a Jarl, a man or women who leads a team of up to 80 people of all ages in burning a full-size Viking galley ship that the community has built. These festivals are integral to the communities of this far-flung archipelago of islands.
Shani Dhanda is an award-winning disability specialist, listed as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people. As a keynote speaker and practitioner for inclusion across business, government, non-profit and wider society, Shani helps organisations break barriers and integrate inclusion into their business frameworks. Shani’s style and approach are described as “a winning combination of authenticity and passion, helping to remove the awkwardness and fear of having confident conversations about disability within business and society”.
A South Asian pioneer that has broken and is breaking boundaries and stereotypes within and outside of the South Asian community through truly being her authentic self. Shani is wearing a lengha by Dina Kashap with jewellery from Anisha Parmar.
Hannah is a recovering heroin addict. She first started using the drug at the age of 15 and has spent the last 20 years battling addiction. Now clean and in the process of rebuilding her life, Hannah has agreed to work with me on a project to create a visual story of her experience of addiction. The project title, Yesterday, and Today, and Forever, reflects the reality that she will always be a heroin addict; the struggle to remain clean is renewed each morning.
Swimming in Marine Lake while looking at the sunset is such an experience, one I will never forget.
“Mary, God rest her soul.”
Arlo and Grandad watch as an escaped helium balloon flies off into the distance.
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