Belgravia (1979 - 1981)

The Belgravia series, images and texts describe class and power amongst the international and wealthy during the beginning of Thatcherism in London during 1979. Belgravia is still a cosmopolitan and rich neighbourhood in London near Harrods in Knightsbridge with many non-domiciled residents. My parents lived in Belgravia and the first image of the series is a photograph of my mother and grandmother in the front room of our “maisonette” on Lowndes Square. Yet the photographs are not about individuals but about a group of people and their ideas during a particular time in history. They are “non-potrtraits” in that they do not aim to flatter or to show the “truth” of these people. People are not named and remain anonymous.

The work describes the ‘everyday’ of a privileged minority. Historically, portraiture of the upper classes has tended to be flattering but the combination of image and text brings this work is closer to satire and caricature, without losing the strong reality effect specific to photography. The meaning of the work can be found in the space between image and text: neither text nor image illustrate each other, but create a “third meaning” to be completed by the spectator. The text slows down the viewing process as we study the text and return to re-evaluate the image in light of what we have read.. There are key words capitalised and words from conversations are broken up and laid out on the surface of the photographic paper emphasizing its cnstructed and ironic nature, The people photographed become actors and perform their identities in a collaborative fashion with me. We choose clothes together and decide in which part of their homes would suit the portrait, There is a real complicity between us. They are after all “family”.