I have been making pictures in and around the Lee Valley area for the past 5 years. However, for the past year I have been exploring the possibility of working with the people on the island itself. My main focus is the history of the island and how the area has evolved into a community since the development of the new housing estate from gun factory.
The area is steeped in history and I find the transformation from munitions factory to residential area fascinating. What’s even more fascinating is that we are the first ‘real’ community to live on the island itself. I have been finding out more about this diverse community – who these people are, what they do for a living and what they know of the place they now call home. These ‘islanders’ have a story to tell and I want to tell it through photography.
Mo has lived in the village for about 14 years and I met with him for a walk around the village to find out what the place means to him. Mo moved from Edmonton which is not a very nice area of London so it was no surprise to hear that he preferred the village. What was a bit of a surprise was to hear just how much he loved living here. He told me that he didn’t see himself moving from here and would love to live here forever. I do believe that there is something about the place that sucks you in.
Mo came from Somalia to the UK as a young child with his family. We have all heard about the problems in Somalia and I can only imagine that life is a lot more peaceful here in the UK. With youth on his side, I felt a twinge of jealousy when talking to Mo. He has the freedom to dream without the clutter that comes with maturity and responsibility. I wanted to represent this freedom somehow in his portrait.
This is Andrew. He is originally from The Black Country and moved to the island in 2001. He is an accountant and for me represents the management workers of the factory. Like many people, Andrew likes the countryside around the village and the Lee Valley. However, he has a particular penchant for the signs of industry which is why I chose to photograph him on the iron railway bridge that originally brought goods to the factory.