Hip hop starts somewhere, for me it was on the streets where I first met Dave, Ryan and members of a local group ‘Motion Enterprise’ (ME). We were in an underpass, one of the only legal graffiti spots around, where artists paint their ideas onto the walls of the world. Instantly I realised language is the battleground here, as a documentary photographer I could see potential within this environment and the people I met so I continued to speak and meet up with them and that is where reality manifested, it grew bigger and bigger since the first conversation. Hip Hop escapes the cultural trap of conformity. Although Hip hop is its own culture and is recognised through its art, music, clothing style, and dancing its core values differ from everyday culture. hidden inside of the culture is a custom language that is learned individually through people expressing themselves through rap or art and is refined more and more everyday.
Language is the battleground where all of this takes place, and culture is the limiting directional downfall of powers telling people where to go, and what to consume and what to think, Hip hop bypasses the masses and opens up freedom of expression by 'breaking the rules' of music, art or dancing, it says think for yourself, articulate the world how you see it, don't let culture turn you into a zombie, you are more than alive, keep it that way. Create from your inner being, then you cant go wrong.
The ‘Eye of The Storm’ is a photographic documentation of local music artists and creatives which has an articulated and concentrated focus on Hip hop, Grime, and Dj’ing to locate a British identity within these individuals and at the level of community and country; at an important turning point within British identity and culture; a voyage away from the EU, I feel it is important to reveal the identity of what creates community for me and to make a statement. The project is a substantial body of analogue contact sheets and prints created between October 2017 and May 2019. Within these two and a half years I attended 100+ shoots, planned over twenty separate street, home and studio shoots with individuals and groups with the local Hip hop community. I also planned one big shoot in Montpellier Park in Cheltenham in which over 25 people were photographed together. I have created thousands of images, near 100 rolls of film and contacts (minus colour contacts), met, networked and worked with 50+ people and I really feel I have explored the landscape of community and culture vigorously and attentively.
I have learnt all about the community in Gloucestershire, been let behind the stage and shown how it is all put together in real time, I have been shown who, how and what goes into creating Hip hop and Grime music and all of the preparation that goes into the performance of these arts. This project is always growing and I am now exploring more than ever through photography. Articulating the book has been the hardest part, to put a break in the work and to stop shooting for a few weeks, but I have been able to create a finalised version of my work whilst being at University and am Proud to have my name on it. I see the future of this work exhibited in galleries in the local community to engage the public with art music and crafts. I have also learnt how to manage a high work rate and fast turn over using analogue mediums, and feel confident as a freelance to branch into other parts of the world.