It is an inclusive city with a diverse population; neighbourhoods and communities blend into one another and interconnect across different cultures and livelihoods. The city has taken measures to introduce fairness into the heart of its economic operations; the Living Wage has been widely promoted and adopted and the city has been accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation.
Brighton & Hove has a relatively strong economy, judged to be the third fastest recovering from recession in the country. It’s well placed to respond to economic adversity thanks to its flexibility, creativity and location. There are many young and energetic start-ups as well as several established employers who benefit from a highly capable workforce, buoyed up by the city’s two universities.
Brighton & Hove is also on the frontline of innovation and technology, particularly in the low-carbon and creative digital sectors. A Green Growth Platform is boosting the environmental goods and services sector.
This photo essay focuses on some of the sustainable and innovative businesses in the city and its environs and includes sustainable building projects, recycling and reuse initiatives and organic farming initiatives.
The photo essay also focuses a lens on the city’s young people, juxtaposed with wild flowers from the surrounding downland, reminding us of the need to protect and nurture.
Finally, the work draws attention to the fact that, despite best efforts, there are pressure points and some people remain on the margins of society, excluded from communities and economies, which we all need to be reminded of in order to make changes for the better.
It is my reasoning and understanding that art practice should engage with the world in which we live, I consider art as a calling not a vocation and have been lucky enough to have spent the last 30 years making art full time. It is my goal to deal with the issues and complexities of the contemporary world by using a mixture of different artistic endeavours while keeping photography at the centre of my practice.
I come from Steyning, West Sussex and attended Worthing Art College after which I travelled globally for many years working on various art and photographic projects. My work has appeared in both solo and group exhibitions in a variety of venues including Brooklyn Museum, New York (2014), Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery, London (2012), The Spaceship, Tel Aviv (2010), ICA, London (2007), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2007), White Space Gallery, London (2006), Biennale de Quebec (2004), 49th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale (2001) among others.
I have produced 18 Monographs, including most recently, Settlement (Mack Books, 2014), Alexander McQueen, Working Process (Diamini Press, 2014), Surf Riot (Little Big Man Books, 2011) right back to the first one I produced and became known for, Living Room (Aperture, 1991).
My work features in a number of Public Collections including Guggenheim Art Gallery in New York, Museum of Modern Art in New York, National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, National Museum of Film, Photography and Television in Bradford, Government Art Collection in London among others. I will have a solo show at Tate Britain in spring 2015.
I currently live between London and New York but will be living with my family back in Steyning for the summer while I undertake the One Planet Living commission. I am also a life long supporter of the Albion and was at both matches at Wembley in 1983.
When I was assigned the principles of ‘equity’ and ‘local economy’ to guide my work for this project, I thought about how these terms related to my own life, and my history, in the Brighton area. My great-great grandparents lived north of Brighton; they worked in the fields around Henfield during the planting and harvest seasons, and in the winter they would live in the poorhouse in Brighton. By the time I was born, my family had made their way into the middle classes. I grew up in Steyning, a three hour walk across the Downs from the city. I’d sometimes walk that way, through Fulking, or else along the old railway line, when I didn’t cycle or hitchhike my way there and back.
As a teenage boy in late 1970s and early 1980s, I saw Brighton as a place very unlike my quiet conservative village. It was a city full of possibilities and cultural horizons, a place where I could meet other like-minded boys to spend days skateboarding at The Level, and nights seeing bands at the Concorde or Sherry’s or the (aptly named) Escape. Now, as a middle-aged artist based between London and New York, I often think back to those years and the visions of the future I had then, and the dreams of a teenage boy walking through the fields or along the sea.
Half of the images I made are a kind of composite self-portrait, filtered through those memories. I photographed boys at the skateboard park at The Level, boys around the age I was when I first began to think of my share of the future – and the ‘equity’ I imagined in that future. These are not the only teenagers in Brighton & Hove, or even the only teenage boys; they are part of a minority subculture, within Brighton & Hove’s multicultural communities. Photographing them, I think about how different their sense of ‘equity’ must be, growing up in a much more diverse place than I did, in a time of Green MPs and environmental initiatives. I juxtaposed the portraits with images of the flowers of the South Downs for a few reasons: as a reminder of my long teenage walks across the Downs, as an image of growth and futurity, and also as a vision of constancy in the midst of the changes that happen in cities and lives.
The other half of the work I made, based on the idea of ‘economy,’ makes a different kind of juxtaposition. I thought about how the city of Brighton & Hove exists, and has always existed, in relation to two limits: the Downs and the sea. It takes its identity from those surrounding natural phenomena, but is also bounded by them. I made images of businesses operating in and with that defining periphery, which contribute to Brighton & Hove’s economy by linking the city to its natural environment. For example, I photographed green initiatives in the harbour, including a company which uses recycled materials to make breeze blocks for building and a company which produces wood chips for power stations. I also photographed small shops selling local food products sourced from the Downs or fish caught off the local coasts, as well as businesses operating on the Downs themselves, including a mushroom farm which grows its produce out of used coffee grounds.
For me, the work as a whole, in its various juxtapositions, brings together the past and the future, the personal and the global. Brighton & Hove is made up of young people with their dreams of the future, and older people who are responsible for creating that economic future, particularly by working with the natural world.
American Express Community Football Stadium
Officially opened in July 2011, theAmerican Express Community Football Stadium was the first building of its kind in the UK to achieve a BREEAM rating and it achieves nearly 18% carbon savings by using low and zero carbon technologies. The Stadium is accessible by footpaths from local communities in all directions and there are miles of cycle lanes that lead there. It is well serviced by bus routes and Falmer Station was redeveloped to allow for greater access by rail.
The Stadium has recruited 750 full time equivalent personnel and on a match day there are 1,200 people working on the site to accommodate the average attendance of 27,000 fans. It employs people in many different areas including Administration, Marketing, Commercial, Retailing, Grounds Maintenance, Building Maintenance, Security, Cleaning and Catering. It also hosts international conferences and trade shows including launching the first Eco Technology Show in 2012 that showcased technologies to encourage sustainability and energy efficiency, both in the home and commercially.
The Stadium has close ties to both the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton and runs programmes for education, skills training and jobs including a programme to get people into work and apprenticeships in areas such as Grounds Maintenance. They believe that working with local children and adults on a huge variety of education and healthy living projects both within school and at the Stadium can only bring long term benefits to the wider community.
How to get there:
Closest train station: Falmer
Closest buses: 23, 25, 28, 29, 29B 84
Cycle: On National and Regional Cycle Network
Car: In visitor car park
Wheelchair accessible: yes
One Planet City: Professional Commissions 2014 - 2015
Ten photo essays responding to the ten sustainability principles of One Planet Living with ten site-specific installations in public spaces across Brighton & Hove.