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It Felt Like They Were Everybody's Photographs

I’d recently come out of a full-time job at an interior company and I wanted to get back to my

roots a bit – I’d worked in costume for film and TV productions for about 10 years previously. I was

already volunteering with Crisis in their ‘Make and Mend’ class so I was involved and knew a few

of the members. I met Rowan [Crisis Arts Co-ordinator] towards the end of the previous year and

she’d mentioned about the project then, I was absolutely delighted to be asked.


I was the stylist for each photograph, so I was involved in getting costumes and props. Quite often

I would email round at the start of the week - to a core group and say, ‘who’s got this, and who’s

got that’, because as much as possible we were trying not to spend any money. Then it would just

be a case of trawling the charity shops. We used Oxford Drama Wardrobe quite a bit and Creation

Theatre’s store in Banbury, and then the rest would be sort of cobbling together, and I’d make and

adjust things. A lot of the time we did a direct copy of the photograph, but sometimes we would

do a modern take on it - like Thatcher and the tank.


Members would also be involved with getting props and costumes, I remember, one of the

members would be like ‘you need to speak to Tank Nut Dave, he can lend you a tank,’ and we’d be

‘brilliant!’, because you’d be thinking, ‘how on earth are we going to do this project?. I think that

was important with the costume and props, that if people felt like they wanted to get involved,

they could. It was very collaborative. I think everyone felt on a level, on the same level, there didn’t

feel a degree of hierarchy. It felt like they were everybody’s photographs. Also on a professional

level we couldn’t put up something that was substandard. Rory [Lead Artist] wanted to make sure

that the costumes and props were proper, the police uniforms were proper. You don’t want it to

look like fancy dress. I think we achieved that.


Some photos were quite ‘off-the-cuff’ as well. For example Bloody Sunday wasn’t one that was

in the mix, and then one week the group just decided they wanted to do it, I only had a couple

of days to get things together. The details mattered. For example, a Catholic priest has a tonsure

collar. We don’t want to get that sort of detail wrong, because you want to pay respect. I ordered

a vicar’s shirt, but it wasn’t going to come in time, so I phoned our local vicar and asked ‘any

chance you could lend us a shirt and a scarf?’. What was quite nice was that - he was very willing,

but he was also then very interested in the project and was invited to the launch. Similarly, with

the Bullingdon Club picture, Shepherd and Woodward lent us all the suits through one of the

members contacts who was an old friend of the owner, Brilliant! . I’m in the Bullingdon Club at the

back actually. I hate having my photograph taken, camera shy, but you’re being someone else,

you’re pulling a different face, being an arrogant young man, and I think definitely that helps. It’s a

bit of disguise, isn’t it?


The one I was most worried about was the Miner’s Supper. My background’s mainly in costume, suddenly we had this very heavy sort of prop shoot going on. I’ve done quite a lot of set dressing

work at the interiors company and always felt when you’re trying to make somewhere look like

a room it ends up looking like a photoshoot. I think we did incredibly well. The picture looks like

a room, and it looks so much like the real picture. It was the second photo of the day, we did

Christine Keeler before it, and it took quite a while because it’s a very intimate photo, and then

suddenly we’re sort of dashed down to do this Miner’s Supper, and we’ve only got like an hour to

get this. But yeah, I think it’s brilliant.


Getting that one done and dusted meant we felt quite confident with the rest, I suppose. I think

also the whole team got very good at taking a picture. Bloody Sunday, for example. I think we

got that shot in about 20 minutes or something. The people behind the camera got very good

at giving direction, the people in the picture got used to listening. It became quite a professional

outfit, if you like. And we did a follow-up picture for the general public, the Sergeant Pepper

picture, where the members from ICON directed the photoshoot, and you could tell that they were

just good and knew their stuff.


I just felt completely at home with the project and the people. I think it’s one of the best projects

I’ve worked on. Just the camaraderie. Everyone felt very committed to pulling it off against

the odds - you just think, crikey, how are we going to get these photographs done, where are

we going to get the tank from, how are we going to make the Pankhurst work? A real team

effort. And everyone was so immensely proud at the launch night of what we had achieved and

how the photographs looked. People were genuinely moved by it, the effect it had on some of the

members seemed to be a great thing. I suppose we all felt a bit changed by the project in the end.

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