Fiona Green of Transition Fitrovia has lived in the Fitzrovia area for nearly 50 years. In celebration of this and in the spirit of honouring her neighbours, she recently undertook a photography project in which she interviewed and photographed some 45 people along her 200 yard street. Here she talks about what she did and the positive impact it has had on herself and her local neighbourhood.
“The idea for the project came from a trip I took to East Berlin in 1960 on a Teacher’s Delegation when the Berlin Wall was still in place. Everywhere, where ordinary men or women were working, or making a contribution, they were recognised. Photos outside building sites, in hospitals, all over…
Back in Fitzrovia in 2010, I decided to do something similar and undertook to honour and celebrate my neighbours by photographing, interviewing and then sharing their stories. Very quickly, I began to see a ripple effect. People who were “invisible” or felt shy or inadequate started to feel valued. I found myself making more and new friends; like the interesting Nigerian guy who works in a basement all day for a taxi firm and cycles home to Hackney everyday. I got to learn about peoples’ existing troubles (three survivors of holocaust in Nazi Germany, Saddam’s Iraq & Vietnam}, not to mention the real fear and anxiety around the current recession and the way it is being managed by Local and Central Government. No less than 15 nationalities were represented – India, America, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Italy, Sicily, Pakistan, Vietnam, Portugal, Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, England, Norway & Denmark – and the street is only 200 yards long!
In addition to forging new contacts myself, the project also enabled me to link and connect people up. For example, Michael from a nearby restaurant donated 2 crates of wine for the Opening is now doing business with Dan from the motor bike shop.
Another great advantage was that although it cost me about £200 to do, quite unsolicited support came through, which really moved me: a free show in a smart West End Gallery, full cover for the printing & framing, 2 crates of wine for the Opening & offers to have the show on their cafe walls thereafter.
Already, I am preparing the show to travel up and down the street to spend time in each cafe and it goes into our free paper The Fitzrovia News in March. A big future plan is to mount the pictures on the hoardings that wrap round our 3 acre derelict Hospital site. I think it would also make a good book so watch this space!”