"Suburb"

 

Ted Homer

The University of the West of England.

 

’Suburb’ is a series of photographs investigating the quite, private and almost impersonal spaces that make up many of our cities population. This project was born from the reaction of residents of a close in a suburban area. The photographs show houses and streets that purely represent suburbia and have no connection with the emails or the people that sent them.

www.tedhomer.co.uk

Email 1

I have sent the following email to my Neighbourhood Watch Contacts in the street and it is up to them whether they participate in your project. My house number is 6.

'I expect you have all received the same letter as me about a student wishing to take photos outside our houses. My first thought was 'a student why not help', however my second thought was perhaps he should have asked first before planning his project and that I did not wish to have my privacy invaded in this way. Personally I do not wish the residents of my house made public (even in a student project) and feel that those living on their own may not wish to make this public for safely reasons. Obviously he can take photos in the street, a public place, and you must all make your own decisions but as Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator I decided to make my position known.

Sorry to sound so formal. I will send the text of this email to the student as he has welcomed any contact.'

Your letter was friendly and non threatening but I do not think that you have considered the position or feelings of the residents.

Mrs X

Email 2

I am one of the residents (no 2).

I think your project is fascinating and I would like to support you, my daughter is currently studying for a degree which includes photography so I understand some of what you are trying to do.

The problem is the personal circumstances i find myself in.

I have two problems, both of which I think are soluble but you need to be aware before you proceed to far.

1. My husband has a chronic illness - this would be great for your photo - man in wheel chair would be unexpected in the circumstances but my husband spends most of his day in bed. You would only have short windows for photographing.

2.I am a secondary school teacher and I do not want any possibility for students to find out where I live. At my school media students is an option and searching for local photography projects is a scenario we can both imagine.

I'd be interested in your response and why do you think we live in suburbia? How are you defining suburbia?

Mrs X

Email 3

Hello Ted

I have sent you 2 messages  via Facebook which regrettably tell you that we wish not to take part in your study.  I think this reflects many here. We are a private bunch of people and are very wary how our privacy could be invaded by others using the Internet.  

As an alternative, have you thought of analysing the following re your interest in suburbia (yes, we do not like this word, instead suburban living as the first seems a bit anti us - we are all not like Margo from Good Life - search Youtube for this!)

1 Stoke Lodge at the top of Stoke Hill  and other Bristol City Council Adult Learning Centres (e.g. Greenway in Southmead, and St Pauls Learning Centre - e.g. how do they compare and contrast re design of build, and who studies there, and the type of courses - I am sure you will be amazed by the diversity of subjects and the reasons for attending.

2 Village Halls e.g. Stoke Bishop, Shirehampton Public Hall www.shirepubhall.org.uk  - all are busy with suburban lifestyle activities - interesting buildings, people and activities

3 Local churches as no 2  e.g. St Mary Magdelene, Sneyd Park, and Westbury Baptist Church, Reedly Rd for ones near here.

4 The Downs - during the week and weekend e.g. sport activities ranging from postnatal mums pushing 3 wheeler buggies to the PT troop to the footballers to the ones who are exercising by walking for their post-op care, to the dog walkers ........ the charity events ........ the birdwatchers (search peregrine falcons bristol)  to the Downs committee activities (leaflets at the Downs cafe ..... and who goes to the cafe?!  

May I carefully suggest you alter your Facebook motto as this may make people a bit apprehensive of helping you.  

No 11, 12 would like our photos removed if poss from your websites, or if not, please could you delete our car reg nos?  We are a private people and one is very much in the public eye and this info would not be good to be spotted by our houses.  Many thanks.

If you plan to take photos of children, I think you need their parental/guardian signatures to allow photos to be taken - this happens at school.  

I hope the above thoughts do help you in your research - I just did not want you to feel you have not been helped by us.  

Cheerio

Email 4

Thank you for your letter concerning your proposed project. Personally I do not think highlighting the road on the Internet is a good idea however well intentioned the motives. The older demographic (many retired)  values its privacy and is likely to feel more vulnerable & concerned as a result of such a project, & I am sure you would not want that.

Personally I would prefer it if you would withdraw the idea and seek inspiration elsewhere. If it goes ahead I would not want any reference to No.5. Please do not call to discuss.

Yours,

X

Email 5

My name is X and I am the Police Community Support Officer that covers the X beat in Bristol, I am a member of the Avon & Somerset Constabulary.

I have been contacted by one of my Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator's who has raised an issue with me regarding your proposed photography project.

I have been informed and observed for myself that you have taken several photographs of houses in X and placed them on your website www.tedhomer.co.uk.

Obviously the residents of X are concerned that their houses are on a website along with their vehicle registrations and a reference as to where the houses are.

Speaking to the NHW co-ordinator they have informed me that you are a very polite person who has in no way been malicious, so please do not take this email as a telling off, they just feel that their privacy has been breached and maybe you don’t fully understand that your actions have caused quite a bit of alarm and distress to a number of elderly residents who live within the street.

I am requesting on behalf of the residents that you remove all pictures of premises in X from your website, they have also informed me to pass on to you that they will not be taking part in your photography project, I would also advise that if you try any other houses in Stoke Bishop then I fear you will receive the same response.

I do apologise for hindering your project which is undoubtably a fundamental part of your university course.

I will make contact with you during the week to discuss this with you further, should you wish to make contact with me before then please give me a call on 101 and ask for PCSO 6999 X and I will be happy to discuss this with you.

Many Thanks