When my mum passed away my brother and I spent quite some time going through her things. Never an easy thing to do but to be honest, I was grateful to share this time with my brother to remember my mum and what she meant to us both.
Memories, locked within so many different everyday things like my mums scarf – the smell took me back to when I would get a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek, the smell of her scarf filling my nostrils. Smells, like some many other things we often take for granted, can carry powerful memories that can bring a smile, a laugh, a tear and many other emotions to the surface.
My mum was a hoarder of things – artwork, for example from my children and of photographs of the family. Boxes and boxes of faded, folded, torn, worn black and white photos and prints with that sixties and seventies faded chromatic colour all stacked on top of each other and pushed together in no particular order.
There were some powerful memories, plenty of tears and a longing for those days to come back to fill our childhood home with the bustle of life as we knew it. Of course, time must move on but with the faded photos I found myself easily slipping back in time, a wedding, christening, Christmas, birthday and New Year’s Eve party all captured and preserved in faded colours of those dog eared and worn images.
We all have significant life events captured in a catalogue of photos, many stored away and rarely seen. But now with technology as it is, photos are easy to take but still not so easily remembered. Sharing a blurred photo taken on your phone through social media doesn’t have the same excitement we had waiting for the prints to be developed at the local chemist. If only to realise that they were all too dark, blurred or everyone’s heads were cut out of the frame. I’m sure we all have some of those in a box in the loft.
I liken my photography to capturing moments in time, everyday moments that tell a story, filled with emotion that would otherwise be lost. Or just a series of images that record how things change or have changed. This is what I try to do through my photography and it’s been great to develop my skill to be able to capture the world around me one click at a time.
Going to the matches and using my camera to record the match day experience is part of my attempt to record the everyday so that is serves as a valuable memory of the past. The joy of a goal and a win, the low of a defeat and frustration, sometimes angrily expressed at the players and the manager. Capturing these moments against the backdrop of the match serve as a valuable reminder of how we invest our passion for West Ham United that has been passed down from generations or picked up for the first time within us and the people we know.
I’m interested in people and their stories, fans who have come to West Ham through their own personal journeys. By the time we settle in front of the screen, or singing out ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ arms held aloft as the players come out into the pitch, we are locked into the emotion of the game. We are part of a family and the connection we feel fuels our passion and builds the excitement.
We arrive at that point in time holding our history within us and all the life events that have lead us to that moment. In our dedication we wear a favourite scarf, carry a lucky charm, have our match day rituals and sing as hard as we can as if this will inspire the team to victory.
I want to tell those stories that people have inside them, share and preserve them for others to experience. It seems that despite it being so easy to record our lives through our phones, the speed of social media takes us further away from the memories themselves. So many photos and videos of our lives that we don’t really stop to talk about amongst the likes and shares on Facebook.
From The Stands is an Idea I have been working on for a while and I want to be able to capture some of those moments in time that tell a story that will be enriched with the memories of fans. I want to match some of those memories to key moments in the history of the club, so that history comes to life. Personal stories and recollections that we can relate to but help create a living history of the family to whom we all feel a part of in some way.
I met a 92 year old Hammer as I was putting my photos up for a little exhibition at Canary Wharf Idea Store and he was telling me about how he managed to get in to see the World Cup Final at Wembley in 1966 without a ticket. It reminded me of the times I used to slip into the Boleyn Ground once the matches had started as the security would open the large gates a nudge and let fans into the ground for a couple of quid.
These memories can be passed down but when matched with a visual reminder, bound to moments we all share or can relate to, they become powerful and timeless. They become part of a history to which we all can feel some belonging to.
If you’d like to be part of project this please let me know. I know on here there are people with very different, diverse and varied experiences that would serve as a wonderful history of our club seen through the eyes of fans. At those times when we get frustrated with the club and the players it’s worth remembering why we are here, why we support the club and what it means to us and those who we share that with.
I will be sharing my photos and the stories of fans through a blog and a regular zine printed throughout the season. It is called From The Stands and the first edition is out which will contain photos from the exhibition. The blog is only just up and I’d appreciate some views and comments. You can find it here: https://fromthestands.blog/