I am working with the Downham Men’s Group on a large scale Photo Project for the “Age Against the Machine” Festival. I am leading a number of photography workshops and shoots that will culminate in an exhibition in Sept & Oct 2019. I’ll also be documenting the process and will be exhibiting my own photos of the experience.
“The men of south Lewisham are at risk of being left behind within our local society. High unemployment, poor health and limited prospects render it difficult to motivate them to look after their health, or to take up opportunities for the benefit and wellbeing of themselves, their families or their communities.Trevor Pybus – Downham Mens Group
This project will create unique opportunities across Downham; an area of high social deprivation to work with men, their families and carers to help break down the barriers to social isolation.
We will work with Sarah Garrod, a local photographer, in a series of workshops that will show the changes across Downham that have happened over the last 90 years. We hope to start to leave a legacy for the 100 year of Downham in 2026.”
Session 1 : Cyanotypes
I kicked off the project with a sun-printing (Cyanotype) session, focussing on artefacts and plants from the local area and experimenting with the first principles of early photography. The men had sourced some photographs of old buildings from their research in local libraries, and I turned those into negatives that the men also printed as cyanotypes.
Session 2: Cemetery Shoot & Review
Hither Green Cemetery was suggested as a good place to explore Downham’s past. The men did some research, and we looked for the graves of schoolchildren killed during the war in a mass shooting. We saw the derelict Chapel of Dissenters and had a good long walk discussing memories of neighbours and family. There was very heavy rain during the shoot, but the men persevered and we got some good shots. We reviewed the shots on a computer screen and talked about lighting , aperture and skies. These are my photos from the day:
Session 3 : Photo Walk
This week we walked the long “Woodlands Walk” into Downham centre, and back again. We looked at photographing details, and landscapes, and I showed the men how to use a reflector. We passed through a magical spot that passes through the Meridian line, and is adorned by fairy lights at Christmas. We found the old tramshed, and horse troughs in the town, and imagined walking the high street in the Past without all the cars. We visited green spaces including the Green Woman lake and discussed ideas for its refurbishment. We saw several types of architecture, from modern Schools to self-build homes, and chatted about environmental impacts. We covered several km on a good healthy walk and returned with excellent photos.
Session 4: Curating & Framing
I collated all the many photos taken by the men and had them printed in various sizes, some in colour some in Black & White. I was keen that the men saw the project right through the final stages, including selecting the final prints for the exhibition, mounting and framing. We combined this with a day of bowls.