It investigates what happens below the surface and just around the corner in places and communities that are generally considered not at “the centre of things”- geographically, socially or economically.
“Perceptions of Knowle West in the media, and among other outsiders, have sometimes focused on stereotyped understandings of ‘issues’ and ‘problems’. For this commission I chose to engage and interact with the community of Knowle West with a silent mind, without preconceptions to create an authentic record of my interactions and experiences.” – Tommy Sussex, 2015
What he quietly hints at, and invites us to discover for ourselves, are patterns of exchange, micro-hubs of activity, anticipation of actions and purposeful movement around a both urban and (almost) rural landscape. From the matriarchal organising power of the bingo hall, to the community spirit embodied in collective endeavour at the local Slimming World, the images reveal a community moving, living and negotiating its own terms of engagement.
Tommy Sussex was the recipient of the 2014 South West Graduate Photography Prize. He spent four months getting to know Knowle West during the production of this project: pounding the pavements, meeting local residents and visiting community groups in the area.
Although initially they have the appearance of absence, Tommy’s intimate documentary-style photographs also capture the moments just after periods of intense social activity or conversation. The images portray abstracted scenarios and symbolic gestures, alluding to what has come before and what is possible within the captured space.
Tommy has also produced a newspaper-style publication to accompany the exhibition, the objective of which is to circulate the images featured within the community. With this he hopes to create a further dialogue about the photographs and what they mean to Knowle West residents.
‘What Takes Hold’ was commissioned by Knowle West Media Centre and Fotonow. Tommy Sussex is also co-founder of Bristol based photography platform One Giant Arm with fellow photographer Joe Williams. You can view more of Tommy’s work on his website.