"Labour of Love: the new EU generation at work"
This body of work is a homage the new generation of EU migrant workers who have come to work in the UK since the 2004 inclusion of A8 countries and the 2007 expansion that had Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union. The environmental portraits, shot on medium format, aim to convey a positive view of the people who work in diverse industries such as leisure & entertainment, hotels, gastronomy, retail, academia and the arts. The work was a response to negative press coverage on migrant workers at the time and intends to create a balance.
Exactely 10 years on in 2018, I am revisiting the work in view of Brexit and in preparation for a new show “Safe European Home” curated by Emma Walder at Worthing Museum where the body of work is exhibited in conjunction with Delaine & Damian Le Bas and Alex Michon’s work. My work now includes the original press cuttings, new press cuttings and the EU Withdrawl Agreement. Alongside the portaits are empty frames of the same locations leaving a void to reflect upon.
Inspired by Le Bas I started to layer my work thus shifting my approach from traditional social documentary practice to a more fictional and collage like approach. The work contains 6 C-type prints (20”x20”) mounted on aluminium, 6 C-type prints (10”x10”) mounted on Foamex, news cuttings, archival reproductions, memorabilia and a self-published book.
The majority of the portraits have been taken between October 2007 - April 2008 in Brighton, South East England, which has become a hub for Central/Eastern European migrant workers. People included are from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria. The portraits may become a “historical document” in the context of the recent Brexit vote. Is the migrant worker still welcome in the UK? What are their feelings?
The book includes essays by Dr Eugenia Markova (co-author of "East European Immigration and Community Cohesion" with Prof. R. Black/ Joseph Rowntree Foundation) and another one by Daryana Kotzeva (Social and Labour Affairs, Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria- London). It has been donated to Brighton Jubilee Library where it is available to borrow.
More info on the 2018 exhibition at Worthing Museum is available here.
The initial “Labour of Love” project was showcased as part of Brighton Photo Fringe 2008 and several portaits with each persons story were published in the 2008 Latest 7 Magazine ‘Welcome’ column.
For more images and a free PDF of the book please contact me.