Photographic response to Jason Tilley

Hillfields photographer Jason Tilley is exhibiting images from his Beautiful People project at the Herbert Museum. WATCH, in partnership with the Imagine Community project, will be organising a community response to the exhibition. To do this we have been thinking about Jason’s work as well as our own project aims.

Jason’s photography is an exploration of Indian identity and activity, seen through a lens created by his own interests in his family’s past as Anglo-Indians, but also through his grandfather’s past as a photographer for the Times of India.

Jason’s archive includes images of Highfield Road between 1999 and 2002 – he could hear the roars of the crowd from where he lived as a child and he has continued to photograph Coventry more recently.

What strikes me is that Jason is a portrait photographer but even his pictures of buildings reveal his concern with identity – such as the Coventry Innit series which captures issues that the Imagine project is concerned with – how the future of an area has been imagined through what people have done. In Jason’s images we can see hoardings against buildings ready for redevelopment (such as this image from Allesley)

Jason Tilley – Allesley Old Road


or the attempts of the local authority to make the Binley Road more attractive:

Jason Tilley – Binley Road flowers


The community response will tackle the issue of how community identity is generated but from the position of how the Hillfields community have attempted to make these changes. We have proposed that five residents who moved to live in Hillfields in the 1970s should team up with five new residents who have settled here recently. Bringing these groups together will be a process of exploring how they imagine Hillfields evolved/ evolving in the few years after they moved in.

To do this we will be using an action research photo voice method (Wang, 1999) which will aims to enable participants to find their voice in non-text formats such as images. This will be valuable as we expect the participants to speak different languages but they will also be able to control the process of exploring their environment and the portrayal of their lives. We hope that the images they produce will influence people and policy.

This project will begin in July 2014.

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