Whether within small projects or as part of large international companies, the numerous initiatives working to reduce the amount of waste produced in and around Brighton and Hove are inspiring, innovative and forward thinking.
Individuals and organisations may have different motivations for doing what they do but they all play a role in the reduction of waste in the city of Brighton and Hove. A strong commonality is that many projects rely on a specific chain of events, or on other people behaving in a certain way in order to be successful. There are symbiotic relationships evolving which bring an inevitable sense of community, connectivity and collaboration.
This project addresses the variety, intimacy and emotional connection between people and the materials they re-use and recycle. The connection between individuals and their wider community is one which is passionate and tangible.
People and groups all over the city are working energetically and innovatively with new technology and old materials, creating ideas to produce something which can be re-used, brought back to life and given a new and exciting future.
This photo essay is generously sponsored by Freegle.
Sophie Gerrard is an award-winning documentary photographer from Scotland pursuing contemporary and social stories with a strong focus on environmentally sensitive themes. Born in Edinburgh in 1978, Sophie began her career as an environmental scientist graduating from Manchester University. Her creative passion for documenting environmental and social issues then led to a photography degree from Edinburgh College of Art and an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from The London College of Communication. Sophie works regularly for NGO and editorial clients including The Guardian Weekend Magazine, The Financial Times Magazine and Telegraph Saturday Magazine, The Independent on Sunday, Save The Children and Greenpeace International.
A recipient of a Jerwood Photography Award, Fuji Bursary and Magenta Foundation Award, Sophie has completed commissions, assignments and personal projects in India, Mexico, Myanmar and The UK.
Her work is held in a number of private and public collections. Sophie’s work has been exhibited internationally including The Jerwood Space, Flowers East Gallery and The Photographers’ Gallery in London, Streetlevel Photoworks in Glasgow, Paris Photo and a solo show in The Arbetes Museum Sweden.
Sophie is a co-founder of Document Scotland, a collective of internationally acclaimed photographers dedicated to chronicling the social, cultural and economic life in Scotland. She is also a lecturer in
Editorial photography at Edinburgh Napier University.
She is represented by The Photographers’ Gallery in London and Eyevine.
Individuals, as well as materials, are at the heart of this project. My aim, as a documentary photographer, is to seek out individual stories in order to talk about larger issues. With this work, my aim was to present images of people, materials and their environments alongside each other in order to communicate the numerous elements of inter-connection which exist.
This project began by exploring the numerous waste reduction, recycling and processing projects taking place in and around Brighton & Hove. As I met increasing numbers of creative and committed individuals, it became apparent that the emotional connections and emphasis on community and collective working was an integral driving force. Capturing this element of intimacy and passion was a key part of the project for me.
One of the first locations I photographed in was The Wood Store, where I was fascinated by the emotional, and in certain cases, personal motivation some individuals had for buying disused and recycled wood. They spoke of the object’s history, its story and of giving it a new life. Many of the locations photographed contained a beauty which was important to communicate; natural surroundings and fascinating locations, piles of unidentifiable materials and patterns of waste waiting to be processed in industrial locations. For me, the aesthetics of the images invite the audience to take note, to look closer and to question what they see.
Waste House, University of Brighton
Following three months in production, twelve months on site, the installation of 20,000 toothbrushes, two tonnes of denim jeans, 4,000 DVD cases, 2,000 floppy discs, 2,000 used carpet tiles (to clad the facades) and the hard work of 253 students and apprentices, The Brighton Waste House opened in June 2014 at The College of Arts and Humanities at Grand Parade. It is a ‘live’ research project and permanent new design workshop focused on sustainable development and is the first permanent public building in Europe to be constructed from (approx. 90%) waste, surplus material and discarded plastic gathered from the construction industry, other industries and our homes. The idea, developed with Cat Fletcher of FREEGLE UK, is to test the performance of these undervalued resources over the next few years and prove that ‘there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place.’
The Brighton Waste House (BWH) is a ‘One Planet Case Study’ cited within the original Brighton & Hove City Council Sustainability Action Plan. From being built as an almost energy neutral building, to recycling rainwater, to supporting many different types of wildlife through the preservation of existing hedges and trees and the addition of bird boxes, BWH satisfies all 10 One Planet Living principles. BWH also hosts community oriented sustainable design workshops and other related events curated by designers, artists, makers, builders, scientists, writers-in-residence; whoever is interested, as well as helping to deliver University of Brighton’s Sustainable Design MA on campus.
How to get there:
Please enter via University of Brighton Cafe, walk through the courtyard and follow signs to the Waste House
Closest train station: Brighton
Bus: nearest stops include North Road, Grand Parade, & Edward Street – pls refer to www.buses.co.uk
Cycle: racks available nearby
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.