I have to say, like many people, I’ve been slightly ambivalent to some aspects of the build up to the Olympics. But I should really caveat that opening statement!
1) The idea of a torch relay, bringing the sacred flame from Greece to the city hosting the games is of course an evocative one. And if we can take it to as many places in the UK as a build up to the opening ceremony, then this is of course fantastic. It makes it inclusive and will touch a lot more people than those lucky enough to have a ticket to an event.
2) I’m a big Olympics fan, always have been. The ideals of it, the concept of it being revived from that ancient games meeting, when a truce was called, suspending all wars to allow competitors to travel safely to Olympia, to compete for their city state. And in the modern era, the fact that athletes would trade all of their championships for one Olympic gold medal. It means so much to fans and athletes.
So my “issue”, although that’s probably too strong a word for it, was that the BBC were really milking the build up!
A secondary issue for me was that although there were plenty of worthy torch bearers, including local community heroes in each area, there also seemed to be a smattering of vacuous celeb’s muscling in, which was frankly, unnecessary and probably slightly bewildering to the locals who’d lined the streets to watch the torch being held aloft (For the avoidance of doubt Bruce Forsyth is awesome and not vacuous, but I’m disappointed he did his stint in Chelsea and not in Edmonton where he grew up!).
Which brings me onto the work of Nick Turpin. A few days ago an old school friend Cos approached me about checking out Nick’s work. Nick’s a street photographer who has been working with Nature Valley UK (one of the Olympic Sponsors) in taking photographs as the torch has made its way around Britain.
What I really love about Nick’s work is that he is interested in people. There is a warmth in his work, which goes beyond capturing the main event, i.e, the torch and torch bearers.
There is something really nostalgic and comforting about photography of this nature, they are timeless pieces of work as well as being a valuable source of social history, which is sometimes overlooked.
The toothy grins, the lined and wind eroded lived in faces of pensioners, the rosy cheeked glee of children playing, fancy dress, muddy ground. The social boundaries stripped down, where people of all backgrounds share the experience, straining their necks, having a picnic or waving their flags. It’s all there with the brooding skies of Britain, a threat of rain, wind swept hair and the occasional rainbow caught in the lens.
Co-incidentally, I went to Tate Britain yesterday, to visit the Another London exhibition of photography from 1930-1980. These works are well worth seeing, they hit the same sweet spots as Turpin’s work, one particular element made me smile. When Henri Cartier-Bresson visited London in 1937, on commission from a French magazine, to take photographs of the coronation of King George VI, he ignored the King and only took photographs of the crowd. The results were incredible!
I’ve really enjoyed checking out Nick’s work, which is all available on the facebook page here. But some of my favourites are below.
All photo credits to Nick and Nature Valley UK.