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INTERSECTIONAL MATTER : WASTE

This is a group exhibition curated by Jacqueline Ennis Cole, showing at the Gallery at The Station from 23 June 2023. Jacqueline is an artist-activist engaging with wider perspectives on diaspora, intergenerational sites, and climate justice through a practice-led Ph.D. at the Slade School of Art in London, UK, as a recipient of a UCL-ROS Scholarship, 2023. This public presentation is the second iteration of her intersectional climate justice-related curatorial programme. Jacqueline’s initial curated group exhibition Intersectional Geographies: Extraction was shown at the Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol (2022).

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All of life
On our beautiful yet fragile Earth
Whether plant or mycelium, 
Creatures with fins or with wings,
Tiny, small, or large kin from the animal world,
Coral, mineral or stone,
Human or non-human, 
We are all composed of intersectional vibrating matter
Sourced from man-made or organic materials
in perpetual transformation and flux.

Each participating artist and/or photographer has been invited to dig deep and delve into their archives. They were encouraged to seek out, discover, and/or re-learn from their previous body of work to find that singular resonant image: an image that holds the potential through the photographic medium to extend boundaries, and invites a climate justice-related visual description, definition, reflection, and interpretation on Waste.

The exhibition features 25 nationally and internationally acclaimed photographers, which comprises Vanessa Winship, Mandy Barker, Laura Pannack, Graham Silveria Martin, Wendy Aldiss, Alan Conteh, Peter Coles, John Darwell, Mieke Strand, Patricia and Angus Macdonald, Miharu Micha, Keleenna Onyeaka, George Dyer, Sean Wyatt, Kim Shaw, George Georgiou, Imogen Bloor, Naomi James, Sabes Sugunasabesan, Tilaxan Tharmapalan, Armelle Skatulski, Colin Buttimer, Mike Perry, David Birkin, and Lucas Gabellini-Fava.

Gallery at The Station | Station Approach, Frome BA11 1RE

Friday 23 June to Friday 8 July 10:00–16:00

Graham Silveria Martin

Graham Silveria Martin is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores themes of desire, connection, memory, and longing. Recent work is informed by Fiona Anderson’s writing on cruising as method – an approach to research and making that embraces fascination or obsession with a subject, whilst resisting predetermined outcomes. Working in a non-linear way, through drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and installation, he responds to places, objects, and ephemera that hold some significance or charge. His practice revisits histories written in the margins and reframes personal experiences as a way of deconstructing narratives ingrained in our collective unconscious.

1. Graham Silveria Martin, Penny For Your Thoughts, 2021

A brass coin-operated public toilet door lock, that would have been used across the UK until the early 1970s, around the time when the cost to ‘spend a penny’ increased to two pence. Urban cruising culture in the UK began in the public parks and public toilets, known as ‘cottages’. This was a result of the legislation that facilitated the persecution of gay men in the UK throughout the 20th century and in a very real sense drove them underground. When the artist acquired the lock, its mechanism was jammed with two coins, one of which was dated 1967. This struck a chord as homosexuality was partially decriminalised in the UK under the Sexual Offences Act 1967 (with full decriminalisation only being achieved in the last decade). In this context it becomes loaded with meaning in relation to cruising culture and allows us to speculate as to what private acts took place behind the closed door, giving the lock its queer erotic charge. It also speaks more generally to the historic legislation and wider structures that informed and legitimised societal attitudes that perpetuate the oppression of minority groups.

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Wendy Aldiss

Wendy Aldiss was born in Oxford, UK and studied photography at Trent Polytechnic. Wendy works in film as well as digital. Her interest is in people and the human condition/experience. Her work is influenced by the people around her and key stages in life. These images have been exhibited internationally and published as a limited-edition artist’s book and a hardback photobook titled My Father’s Things. Wendy’s images include the portrayal of people themselves through environmental portraits, and the depiction of emotions and experiences.Wendy’s work has been exhibited internationally and appeared in Black and White Photography, Square Magazine, Marie Claire, and other publications. Books published by Pannoval Press and Café Royal Books. She was nominated for RPS 100 Heroines in 2018. In 2022 Wendy was shortlisted for the Photo London Nikon Emerging Photographer Award. Wendy is represented by the renowned LA Noble Gallery in London.

2. Wendy Aldiss, Nailbrush, from the series My Father’s Things, 2018

So often, after a parent dies, you hear people say “I wish I had asked them about…” When my dad died in 2017, I turned to photography to see me through my grief. Photography has been my saviour in many times of trouble. I began photographing my father again by photographing his things. Working several days a week in his home, I photographed everything he had, from the unique items such as his literary awards (he was a Grand Master of Science Fiction) to the most mundane items such as sink plungers. I went through intense emotions picking up each of his possessions, photographing them in my makeshift studio in his dining room or his bedroom and placing them carefully back from where I had found them. Often when we clear the home of a loved one, we take little notice of ordinary day-to-day items. The image shown here is the one I find most intriguing and would like to ask my dad about. This nailbrush is clearly well used, but for what? He didn’t use hair dye so that is not what is clogging up the bristles. I will never know. What I believe this image does is something central to photography: it takes an item (it is often a person or a scene) that would usually be overlooked and separates it out for our scrutiny. One may be revolted by this image, or fascinated by it, but one is looking at it and perhaps seeing a nailbrush properly for the first time. Documenting my father’s things took a year and resulted in over 9,000 images.

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Alan Conteh

Alan Conteh is a London-based photographer from Sierra Leone who is interested in exploring the impact of consumer culture on the environment. In his practice, Alan combines documentary and still-life photography with film to create a deeper connection between the subject and the audience. He is currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University, after completing their BA (top-up) program with a First-Class degree.

3. Alan Conteh, Waste to Energy, 2022

Waste that cannot be recycled or reused is thermally treated at the Energy Recovery Facility in Beddington. By no longer using landfills, the borough reduces the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.

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John Darwell

John Darwell is an independent photographer working on long-term projects that reflect his interest in social and industrial change, concern for the environment, and issues around the depiction of mental health. He is currently engaged in an ongoing series of projects exploring the complexities of the human/dog relationship, life in the rural (English Lake District) and the nature of food consumption. His work has been exhibited and published widely, including eighteen monographs, the most recent being ‘Bird Watching’ (2023 Café Royal Books UK), and numerous book features and exhibitions in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, the USA, Mexico, South America and the Canary Islands. He also has work featured in several important collections including the National Museum of Media/Sun Life Collection, Bradford, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In 2008, he earned a PhD for research into the visualisation of depression entitled ‘A Black Dog Came Calling’ of which the image here was a part of the final work. He has recently retired from academia to concentrate on his personal projects.

4. John Darwell, A Black Dog Came Calling, 1999-2003

This work can best be read as an allegorical ‘journey’, that takes the viewer through a first-hand experience of depression, the images working as evocations (or maybe contemplations) of a particular emotional state, rather than specific locations, and are deliberately left open enough for the viewer to bring their own perceptions to the work.

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Peter Coles

Peter Coles is a fine-art photographer and writer. Since 2011 he has been a tutor on the MA course on Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. His work has been exhibited in one-man and group shows since the mid-1970s and published in various international magazines. In 2016 he founded the Morus Londinium project with the Conservation Foundation to document and preserve London’s veteran mulberry trees, winning a Europa Nostra Heritage Award in 2021. His illustrated global cultural history, Mulberry, was published in 2019.

5. Peter Coles, Paris, rue de la République, 2000
I found these shoes on an early Sunday morning walk. I have often imagined the owner going home barefoot after a night dancing. As I crouched to take the photo, another (anonymous) photographer took a picture of me. Somewhere out there is that other photo. On another day, in another part of Paris, I found a pair of shiny men’s shoes and thought the two owners might have made a beautiful couple. This image comes from a series of photographs of pairs of shoes that have been abandoned or deliberately left out on the streets of Paris for others to take. And this series is part of a larger body of work on abandoned objects made in Paris over a ten-year period while I was living there.

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Vanessa Winship

Vanessa Winship is an award-winning British photographer (two World Press Photo prizes, 1998 and 2008; Sony World Photographer of the Year, 2008; and the Henri Cartier Bresson Award, 2011). Her work is held in several collections including the National Portrait Gallery, London, UK, the Public Collection of Contemporary Photography from the American South, USA, the Sir Elton John collection, UK, Fundacion Mapfre, Spain, Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation, France, and Tate Britain, UK. She is the author and subject of several monographs: Schwarzes Meer (Mareverlag GmbH 2007), Sweet Nothings  (Foto8/Images En Manœuvres 2008), she dances on Jackson (MACK/HCB 2013), Vanessa Winship (Fundación MAPFRE 2014), And Time Folds  (MACK/Barbican 2018) Sète#19 (Le Bec en L’air / Images Singulieres 2019) and a box set, Seeing the Light of Day (B-Sides Box Sets-EDITIONS EDITIONS, 2020) and Snow (Deadbeat Club 2022), a collaboration with Jem Poster that interleaves images of rural Ohio with the answering short story, ‘Ice’.

6. Vanessa Winship, Wedding Veils Blowing in the Wind, 2014

The plastic blowing in the wind isn’t white at all, it’s weathered and torn, and was an extraordinary feeling, poignant and yet beautiful as it billowed in the air. When I was invited to make new work in Spain, Almeria was suggested. My first thought was that I had made work there about plastic agriculture some twenty years before and I was curious to revisit the region. I had the sense of Almeria as both an old and new frontier, from abandoned windmills and watchtowers dotted within the landscape, to the remains of Moorish cisterns, or of a palm tree imported from Africa. As I made the work, all those voices and images registered in my consciousness. They make up a set of visual sentences that speak of anonymity, the nature of work, a presence in absence, a cycle of life that repeats, persists, and goes on.

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Mieke Strand

Mieke Strand is an American photographer based in Berlin. She pursues long term projects of landscape, portrait, and documentary photography. She is currently working on a project in the former East Germany, examining the historical effects of invasive forces – both political and environmental – on the landscape.

7. Mieke Strand, Untitled, 2022

Tree overtaken by the invasive species, Japanese Knotweed, outside Zossen, Germany.

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Patricia Macdonald

Patricia Macdonald BSc PhD FRSE FRSA FSA(Scot) HonFRSGS is an award-winning artist-photographer; environmental/cultural-landscape researcher; writer; and academic (Assistant Keeper, National Museums of Scotland; since 2004 Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh & Edinburgh College of Art). Her powerful, boundary-crossing environmental aerial imagery – made in collaboration through the Aerographica partnership with Professor Angus Macdonald, University of Edinburgh – is commissioned, exhibited, published, and held in collections internationally, spanning fine-art and editorial contexts. She is the author, co-author or editor of numerous books/catalogues, including Shadow of Heaven (Aurum/Rizzoli,1989); Order & Chaos (Stills Gallery, 1990); Views of Gaia (British Council, 1992); Once in Europa/Einst in Europa (Bloomsbury/Hanser, 1999/2000, with John Berger); Airworks (Talbot Rice Gallery/BCA Gallery, 2001, with Duncan Macmillan); The Hebrides: An Aerial View of a Cultural Landscape (Birlinn, 2010, with Angus Macdonald); and Surveying the Anthropocene: Environment and Photography Now (Studies in Photography/Edinburgh University Press, 2022).

8. Patricia Macdonald in collaboration with Angus Macdonald, through the Aerographica partnership, Saltmarsh channels and wartime concrete coastal-defence blocks, Tyne Estuary, East Lothian, 1989, from ongoing series Order & Chaos

The world seen from above is increasingly familiar but views like this may still appear initially to be a series of abstract shapes. Looking again, we comprehend the extensive natural saltmarsh channels, contrasted with the porous boundary of massive, but seemingly insignificant, human artefacts – wartime concrete coastal-defence blocks – immediately below. Does industrial modernity, symbolised here by these cubic forms, defend us from the rest of nature or from the rising sea-levels–due to anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change – in front of which such coastlines will have to retreat? Such paradoxical meditations characterise Patricia Macdonald’s environmental aerial images, which are at once topographical records and objects of profound, and often disquieting, formal beauty.

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Miharu Micha

Miharu Micha is interested in the ‘subjective ‘documentation of everyday social and cultural life and then shares those frozen moments as personal logs. She enjoys experimenting with the camera’s sensitivity to light, with the aperture, and shutter speed adjustments. Her experiential world where she is able to see beyond a fraction of a second. She loves working with blur. She enjoys the flux that exists within every breath filled moment. Miharu Micha graduated from Charles University (with an MA in Art Education and Russian language and literature). She further expanded her academic education and professional training in the areas of photography, non-for-profit management, and museum education) Her personal growth and development involves practice-led ongoing learning with Japanese drawing (sumi-e) and science of mind and body. She enjoys showing work in traditional and non-traditional spaces including the American Centre U.S.A. Embassy in Prague, the Rajhrad Monastery and earlier this year at the Espacio Gallery in London.

9. Miharu Micha, Invaded Space, 2019

This image was created on a beach in Barcelona and depicts the space between life (a bird soaring in the vast, expansive sky) and inanimate matter (a Gehry sculpture of a metallic fish, a creature often linked to theories of evolution). One day while peacefully enjoying this spacious at-onement moment an ‘iron bird’ (airplane) invaded her overhead space with violent force.

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Lucas Gabellini-Fava

Lucas Gabellini-Fava is a London-based artist. He studied at the London College of Communication, where he received a BA First Class Honours degree in Photography. His multidisciplinary practice examines the current state of photography and its place within contemporary image-making – exploring the shifting of the photographic ‘object’ from the physical to the digital. He has frequently shown work internationally, notably in Vienna, in Copenhagen, Berlin, and throughout the UK, including most recently at Brockstedt Gallery in Berlin. His work has also been featured in multiple festivals, including the Bath Photography Festival in the UK and Format Festival. Lucas Gabellini-Fava won the Michael Wilson prize in 2019 for his installation Programmed by my Father, which led to the acquisition of the work by the University of the Arts London for their permanent collection. In 2021, he was nominated for the Prix Pictet. This year 2023, he will be taking part in a residency at Charim Gallery. He is part of London’s Revolv Collective, which was established with the vision of developing new collaborative practices within the visual arts, focusing on innovative ways of teaching, and creating photography. 

10. Lucas Gabellini-Fava, Carbon Copy (1843 Photographs of The British Seaside, The Countryside and of British Livestock), 2019-2023  

Here for the first time, two paintings are shown together Carbon Copy (894 photographs of The British Seaside & Countryside) and Carbon Copy (949 Photographs of British Livestock). They are framed by a metal structure that blooms from the ground encasing the canvases. The stark contrast between the organic matter produced from thousands of photographs and the steel; serves to remind us of our ever-growing conflictual relationship between the man-made and the natural world.Carbon Copy’ acts as a process of distillation, of boiling something down to its essence, using something at its most bare, in its most primal and primitive state – the photograph as pigment, not as representation. No longer fixed in time, the photographs are burned, turned to ash, and then brushed and affixed onto canvas. Stripped of their agency as imagery, they simply exist as matter, as material. Deprived of their hierarchical nature of representation, they inhabit the ambivalent realm between being and non-being. They are the photograph, without the photograph. In an increasingly image-obsessed world, there is a certain value in the re-utlilisation and recontextualisation of physical imagery, claiming authorship over what has already been created and creating something new from its ashes. There is creation within destruction – the bringing forth of new life, that would otherwise cease to exist or simply stagnate. This archive of images breathes and lives again through their demise in a wonderfully violent and sacrilegious way. Through fire, the photographs lose their agency not only as images, but as objects. The fire reverts them to nothing but chemicals and paper thereby igniting a shift from an important memory in time, a small piece of nostalgia, an heirloom, to simple matter. Carbon Copy considers the destruction of the photograph, rather than its creation. 

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George Dyer

George Dyer’s work concerns itself with issues surrounding identity, masculinity, and placement; considering the constraints imposed upon black and brown men, but also recognising and celebrating our potential, achievement and worth. He is currently in the final year of his undergraduate degree at the London College of Communication at the University Arts London. His artwork has featured in several group exhibitions, including Artbox.Project Basel 2.0, ING Discerning Eye and at the Brady Arts Centre.  

11. George Dyer, King of the Waves, from the series MUFA, 2022

MUFA braves uncertain waters, he has no means of controlling the direction of travel and his only comfort comes from a tiny lamp. He is very much alone yet courageous. I created this image whilst writing my dissertation, at a time when I felt out of my depth and lacking in confidence. The visual metaphor could also represent the precarious nature of life for many black men and the forces that work against them when navigating the journey into adulthood.The artwork, which takes the form of analogue/digital collage and book art, is created using archive and found images, typography, wallpaper, textiles, and paint.

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Sean Wyatt

Sean Wyatt is a photographer and lecturer based in Oxford, UK. His practice is primarily concerned with ecology, landscape and psychological responses to landscape/s. Investigating and inhabiting spaces as a photographer/performer, using psychogeography and walking techniques as his primary research methodology. Having joined Kingston University in 2010 as a Senior Technician in Photography, Sean is now currently interim course leader for MA Photography and Level 4-year leader in BA Photography at Kingston School of Art. Sean is a member of the Sound/Image/Media encounters research group and has exhibited work across the UK, in Europe and has featured in magazines such as Loupe and The Journal – Royal Photographic Society.

12. Sean Wyatt, Untitled, from the series Traces, 2017

The image hints at the forensic and depicts found matter and/or materials in such a way as to highlight the darker elements of human interaction within a given environment. The series documents traces of human activity in deep woodland places, in this scenario, a celebratory balloon.

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Kim Shaw

Kim Shaw is an American photographer who lives and works in London. In 2014, her first solo show, Paper Ghosts, was held at Jenny Blyth Fine Art in Oxford. Since then, her work has been shown at Soho Photo Gallery in New York as a part of their international competition, Krappy Kamera, on three occasions. In 2017, she was named overall winner. In 2018, Kim was nominated for the Royal Photographic Society’s 100Heroines, and in 2019 her work was included in the RPS Heroines’ exhibition (Re)Framing Identity in London and Blackpool. In February 2020, her work was featured in London Art Fair’s curated exhibition Photo50.  She has been featured in Huck, Photomonitor, BBC online, Uncertain States and the weekend FT. In 2021, she was longlisted for the Photoworks Ampersand Fellowship. In 2022, she exhibited as a part of Brighton Photofringe. Her work is held in the permanent collection of the Kresge Art Museum in East Lansing, Michigan USA.  Kim is the Director of Photofusion in Brixton and an MA student at Central Saint Martins.

13. Kim Shaw, Stairwell, 2015

The Old Vinyl Factory was a remarkable complex, designed by Wallace Gilbert and Partners. Wallace Gilbert and Partners were responsible for some of the most iconic industrial architecture in Britain, the Hoover Building, and the Firestone Factory for example. The Old Vinyl Factory was the thriving manufacturing epicentre for EMI. It was used for the production of gramophones, hi-fis, and, as the name suggests, the pressing of vinyl LPs. The site fell into disrepair and was slated for redevelopment when I was given the opportunity to photograph what was left of this great space as it teetered on the edge of oblivion.

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George Georgiou

George Georgiou’s work is mainly focused on the complexities of the individual in relation to community and the urban public space. He has produced 3 monographs, Fault Line/Turkey/East/West 2010, Last Stop 2015 and Americans Parade – shortlisted for Aperture/Paris Photo best photo book 2019. His work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums internationally including at the prestigious New Photography 2011 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and at the ICP, in New York. Several institutions and private collectors, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Elton John collection, have collected Georgiou’s work. Awards include The British Journal of Photography project prize 2010, two World Press Photo prizes in 2003 and 2005, Pictures of the Year International first prize for Istanbul Bombs in 2004.

14. George Georgiou, Psychiatric Hospitals, Serbia and Kosovo, 1999 to 2001, from the series Hidden

Between 1999 and 2002, I visited three psychiatric institutions while living and working in Kosovo and Serbia on a long-term project. Prior to this project I spent four years teaching a photography class to people with psychiatric disorders in London. What I found in Kosovo and Serbia was a far cry from contemporary psychiatric practice in London. When I first visited the institutions, they were hidden from the gaze of the public. Money, during the years of the Milosevic regime, had been drained away from psychiatric services leaving filthy conditions, contagious diseases, lack of medical care and rehabilitation, and a failure to provide oversight due to an unmotivated low paid staff struggling with their own economic difficulties. The worst aspect was the total lack of care and stimulation and the high number of people who should never have been admitted in the first place. People with physical disabilities, downs syndrome, a high proportion of Roma, or children whose misfortune was to have been born in these dire institutional conditions. By living in this environment of deprivation, with little stimulation or compassion they started to self-harm and/or display repetitive rocking behaviour. By 2002, on my final visits, money had been raised in a public campaign of awareness in Serbia and with the help of several NGO’s conditions have improved. For me, after the initial shock at the conditions and total lack of care, it became clear that the psychiatric patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds were able to display more community, affection, and care with each other, than their so called “sane” countrymen were displaying to each other on the outside.

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Keleenna Onyeaka

Keleenna Onyeaka, is a visual artist who uses the language of street and portraiture photography to frame and unpack the subtleties of everyday life. He has exhibited work across the UK and in Nigeria including two solo exhibitions on everyday street life in Lagos and Port Harcourt.

15. Keleenna Onyeaka, Waste, 2019

This image was created in 2019 whilst in the passenger seat of an Uber in Lagos as part of a body of Street Photography works in African cities.

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Imogen Bloor

Imogen Bloor studied art at Central St Martins in the 1990s, whilst working as a GP. I recently retired. I have since then resumed my art practice, presently focusing on photography. Walking is key to my practice; I am interested in the details of my everyday environment. I pause to look and ‘see’ the incidental, the ordinary and the ‘in between’. Rich with allusions and metaphors, these inform what I choose to photograph, hinting at emotional experiences, social, environmental, and political concerns. I have recently participated in Photopia group exhibitions All Together We are Different and Life Observed in Hastings, and Attention: Vitality, London Independent Photography 34th Annual exhibition, London, selected by Professor Richard Sawdon Smith and Maria Falconer.

My work was included in the virtual exhibition and photo zine Common Place Beauty and the digital publication For the Love of, both part of TAP/University of Sheffield’s ‘place-making’ project.

16. Imogen Bloor, [wake up and] smell the coffee, 2022

The creation of this image was prompted by a crunch underfoot and the ensuing distinctive aroma. I speculated how the spillage (now documented in the image) had happened, evoking other unresolved questions and further enquiry. Coffee as a product is a lucrative multi-billion-pound global commodity and business. The history of coffee growing, production, and trade intersects with colonialism, slavery, exploitation, and ecological issues. 80% of the world’s coffee is now produced by smallholders in South America, Africa, and Asia. Production is labour intensive and can’t be automated. In the last 25 years, high street coffee culture has skyrocketed in the UK. 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away here each year. The cups that end up in the UK’s landfill sites cause as much of an annual carbon footprint as that produced by 33,300 cars in a year.

Since the 1980s, fair trade initiatives have led to a more ethical approach, guaranteeing a fair price to producers. In the UK almost 25% of coffee is now ‘fair-trade’ but there is much more to be done here and globally.

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Naomi James

Naomi James is a South London based photographer with a particular interest in Polaroid photography and alternative processes. Naomi uses her everyday personal experiences as a starting point to create visual narratives. The techniques employed are carefully chosen to harmonise with the subject matter. Experimentation is a key aspect of Naomi’s work which she relates to a childhood fascination with chemistry. Naomi’s book, Lockdown Decay, All Our Landscapes Reimagined was published by Pannoval Press in 2022.

17. Naomi James, Untitled, from the series Lockdown Decay, All Our Landscapes Reimagined, 2022

A visual exploration of Naomi’s experience of lockdown as she navigated home, work and family with the ever-changing restrictions accompanying national events. Working in a primary school, this began with a period of online teaching. As the country went into its first lockdown, Naomi took Polaroid images of her day-to-day life and immersed them in the chemicals we were using to sanitise ourselves and our surroundings. The images were contained in boxes, mirroring the incarceration we were all experiencing. As restrictions were lifted, some of the Polaroids were removed. The resulting images were abstractions with a cellular quality; the chemical intervention had rendered the original scenes permanently changed but with remnants of a former existence. The process of Polaroid decay was repeated for the subsequent periods of lockdown with the resulting images reflecting the paradoxes of the time. Naomi returned to the classroom in September, working in a contained bubble. By October 2020, it was permissible to spend time away and whilst holidaying in Norfolk, Naomi photographed her second set of images, featuring the beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea. The beach huts became a symbol of further incarceration whilst the open beaches and vast sea represented a longed-for freedom. At the beginning of November 2020, as the country experienced a second lockdown, the beach hut images took their place in their boxes of chemicals and were removed on Christmas Day in place of the family and friends Naomi was not permitted to see. The final lockdown saw another period of home working. The images for this phase were taken of Naomi’s immediate lockdown environment and were subjected to the same chemical treatment. The image selected was produced during this third phase. Lockdown Decay is Naomi’s account of a collective experience – a time of paradoxes and anxiety but also the beauty of hope.

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Sabes Sugunasabesan

Sabes Sugunasabesan is a photographer and mixed media artist living in England. He migrated from Sri Lanka over four decades ago. His art explores land, its influences on life, dispossessions, memories, and solidarity. He has exhibited ‘Last Walk to the Beach’; his response to the brutal civil war in Sri Lanka that ended in 2009 through the lens of geographical distance of time. His exhibition ‘Cruise America’ is a critical examination of tourism through Native American territories and the USA. In 2023, his exploratory project on St Albans was a personal response to place.

18. Sabes Sugunasabesan, From the Last Walk to the Beach, 2016 – 2017

This image is of the young man with the horizon and light setting and from this stance he is gazing at the viewer and beyond. At the time of photographing him he reminded me of the thousands of Tamil freedom fighters who died for a cause. Rephotographing the negative with the help of a technician gave me more time to reflect on my country of origin and the ongoing circumstances. Through a seven-year process the image of the young man would come to represent the whole of the youth of the country their past and present lives, global warming, and their hope for the future. This is a photograph of a medium format film negative. The negative was photographed with a phone camera with a bright light background. Precious minerals are extracted from nature to make phone screens. They will be dumped somewhere when their use ends. The ghostly image belongs to a young man whom I met in the eastern shore of Mullivaikaal, Sri Lanka. In May 2009, the three decade long brutal war came to an end on these shores. He was a combatant on the opposing side of the state’s armed forces. A survivor of a war that took the lives of one hundred thousand people. This event is still without closure.

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Laura Pannack

Laura Pannack is a London based photographic artist renowned for her portraiture and social documentary work, where she seeks to explore the complex relationship between subject and photographer. She is driven by research-led, self-initiated projects that push her to grow both as an artist and as an individual. She largely works with analogue film and chance that supports organic ways of working rather than a predefined practice with fixed ideas that is limiting. Her projects are often long-term, allowing the narrative to grow with the development of the project. Her visual and emotional work aims to engage and connect with the viewer through sharing inspirational stories. Laura Pannack’s work has been extensively exhibited and published worldwide, including at The National Portrait Gallery, The Houses of Parliament, Somerset House, and the Royal Festival Hall in London. Her artwork has received much acclaim and won numerous awards, among which are the John Kobal Award, Vic Odden prize, World Photo Press Awards, Juliet Margaret Cameron award, The Sony World photo awards, and the HSBC Prix de la Photographie prize.

19. Laura Pannack, Heaven and Cyanide, 2016

This image is from the series Chapter 1: Youth Without Age and Life Without Death. The project questions our relationship with time and what it means to ‘waste’ time. The image takes inspiration from the tale that references the dark and the light, heaven and earth, good and evil.

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Tilaxan Tharmapalan

Tilaxan’s Tharmapalan art documentary work of garbage-eating elephants earned him the 2020 Photographer of the Year award from the Royal Biology Society. As a photography artist in Jaffna, he performs a dual role as an artist and archivist. He collects found photographs and documents Sri Lankan culture and environments. He collects these photos from well-known studios, photographers, and people in the wider community. Tilaxan is the founder of the Jaffna Photography Society and the Jaffna Vintage Photo Archive. He regularly organises photography workshops and photo walks.

20. Tilaxan Tharmapalan, Elephants of Landfill, 2016

A herd of 40 wild elephants at Ampara in the east of Sri Lanka have become totally dependent on rubbish and behave almost like domesticated animals waiting for tractors to tip the garbage. It is truly heart-breaking to see the animals eating plastic and toxic chemical waste. The elephants fall sick, and the impact causes the animals scavenging around the vicinity severe health issues. Some have even died. So far six elephants have died from the toxic waste in Ampara.

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Armelle Skatuski

Armelle Skatulski is an artist and researcher undertaking a practice-based PhD at the Royal College of Art in London funded by an AHRC Techne Scholarship. She recently completed an art residency at Convention House, East Street Arts (Leeds, UK), funded by the Weston Culture Fund (July – November 2022). She is the recipient of a DYCP grant from Arts Council England (March 2023). Most recent exhibitions include: RHA Annual Exhibition, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (May-July 2022); Unruly Encounters, South Park Galleries, London (March 2022); Research Biennale MRes 21, Royal College of Art, London (Feb. 2021); There’s something lurking in the shadows,  Dyson Gallery, RCA & NAFAE, London (March 2019); Flight Mode, Assembly Point, London (July 2018).

21. Armelle Skatulski, Untitled, from the series Absent Machine, 2017-2022

A print from a medium format negative of an abandoned coal mine in the Northeast of France. Absent Machine explores the extensive waste of infrastructural resources linked to de-industrialisation – in this instance the dissolution of Charbonnages de France, the French National Coal Board. It contrasts two modalities of becoming for infrastructures of extraction – the archive and the ruin – inviting differing forms of affective engagements.

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Colin Buttimer

Colin Buttimer is fine art educated, and predominantly makes (bound and unbound) works in protest of and in response to neoliberalism.

22. Colin Buttimer, Mel (Creek) from a series of the Swanscombe Peninsula, 2011-2019

Mel was one of a handful of men who unofficially lived on the creek. He gathered plastic refuse washed in with the tide and organised it in orderly piles. Mel lived on a beautiful, single-masted wooden yacht that over the years deteriorated until it lay utterly wrecked. On seeing its final condition, I associated its state directly with Mel and feared the worst. I was relieved when later I was told that he’d been housed by the local council and still occasionally visits the creek. The peninsula, its wildlife, people, and often desolate beauty, have been under threat for the past decade by the proposed development of a huge theme park. In this photograph Mel is cut off by the tide and stranded on his jetty.

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Mike Perry

Mike Perry has exhibited at the National Museum Wales, The Royal Academy, the 56th Venice Biennale and at the exhibition Found, curated by artist Cornelia Parker at The Foundling Museum. In 2017, he was included in the British Arts Council major survey exhibition British Landscape and The Imagination 1970s to Now at Towner Art Gallery. Since 2018, his solo exhibition Land/Sea, funded by Arts Council Wales, has travelled through England, France, and Wales. He was invited to the first Tipping Point symposium on climate change between leading scientists and artists at Oxford University and presented to the Treasury on climate change action with economist Nicholas Stern and artists Antony Gormley and Cornelia Parker.

23. Mike Perry, Burnt Fertilizer Bags, Red, White and Blue, Wales, 2019

He found this lump of plastic in a field near to where he lives in West Wales. It looks like a ‘heart’. He felt that the object was a metaphor for farming culture and how plastic is becoming ingrained in our earth. The red, white and blue colours are resonant with Britain’s position as one of the most nature depleted nations on earth. Among the many artists documenting ecological collapse, Perry’s work is distinct in the hyperlocal and apparently mundane nature of his subjects. Rather than epic, aerial vistas of glaciers or oil fields, Perry directs our attention to the overlooked. The drama of these micro-studies are nonetheless global, holding a tension between their extraordinary aesthetic beauty and the damage inflicted upon nature by human activity.

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Mandy Barker

Mandy Barker is an international award-winning photographic artist whose work has involved marine plastic debris for more than 13 years and has received global recognition. Working with scientists she aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, highlighting the harmful effect on marine life, climate change and ultimately ourselves – leading the viewer to take action.

24. Mandy, Barker, PENALTY – The World, 2013

769 marine debris footballs and pieces of, collected from 41 countries & islands around the World, from 144 different beaches and by 89 members of the public in just 4 months.

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David Birkin

David Birkin is an artist, writer, and Senior Lecturer in Photography at London College of Communication (University of the Arts London). There he co-founded Visible Justice, a transdisciplinary research hub for photographers, filmmakers, artists, activists, journalists, and human rights lawyers working at the intersection of visual culture and social justice. Birkin holds a BA from Oxford University, an MA from the Slade School of Fine Art (University College London) and was a fellow of the Art & Law Program in New York and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths (University of London) under the supervision of Kodwo Eshun (The Otolith Group) and Susan Schuppli (Forensic Architecture). Combining archival film and photographic practices with large scale performances in public space, much of Birkin’s work centres on state violence and the ideological apparatus of imperial power: its iconography, mythology, language, and legal frameworks. Past projects include a collaboration with the courtroom sketch artist at Guantánamo, a simulated software crash on digital billboards in Times Square, CIA legalese in skywriting above Manhattan, and a plane circling the Statue of Liberty’s torch. Birkin has written for Frieze, Cabinet, Creative Time Reports, Ibraaz, and the American Civil Liberties Union blog on subjects ranging from a legally protected species of iguana to Marilyn Monroe’s 1945 photoshoot at an army drone factory. He previously taught at The New School in New York and has given talks and lectures at: the Harvard Radcliffe Institute; Yale Center for British Art; Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton; University of York; University of South Wales; Oxford University’s Institute for Ethics, Law & Armed Conflict; The Photographers’ Gallery; Imperial War Museum; and MoMA PS1.

25. David Birkin, Crematorium, from the series Revisited, C-type print of a re-photographed DV tape, 2006

Revisited is a series of images made by re-photographing the last videotape I recorded of my brother Anno before he was killed in 2001at the age of 20. The single DV cassette contains footage of our final trip together, as well as documentation of the journey I took with my father and youngest brother re-tracing Anno’s steps to the scene of his death. In hindsight, I understand the process of re-photographing these moving images as an attempt to glean something new from a relic of something lost-and to use the medium most closely associated with memory as a way of moving with, through, past, and beyond a static traumatic glitch. ’Crematorium’ is the end image in the series, which captures a waft of smoke which was released from the chimney as his body was consumed by fire. I still remember watching that day as it drifted upwards and across the sky. A small parting in the white clouds opened like a portal, enveloped the black plume in its blue lining, and then closed.

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