I am a documentary photographer / film maker and photography lecturer based in Cambridge, England, and I have recently initiated a project for gypsy youths in England called 'Life Through A Lens'. The project was funded and supported by Ormiston Children and Families Trust and aims to empower gypsy youths by equipping them with the skills necessary to document their lives. The photography produced by the students acts as an alternative to the media’s current negative representation of gypsy communities. The photographs also function as a catalyst in engaging academic and creative industries in a lively discourse regarding the ethics of contemporary representations of gypsies and travellers.
I am now collaborating with an excellent documentary photographer and film maker (Artur Conka, who is of Slovakian origin) in order to plan a second project in Slovakia. We wish to initiate this project in Lunik IX, Košice, from where we have recently returned after documenting the Roma community. Some 15,000 Roma reside there in extremely poor living conditions. Yet in spite of this, at the heart of Lunik IX is a thriving nursery and school. The standard of artwork produced by the children at the nursery is exceptional and has been recognised in an international context. We plan to use both the nursery and the school to deliver the project. We believe that the children will be able to access and document their community in a manner that is refreshingly distinctive.
We believe the photographs the Roma youths produce will provide specific audiences and relevant organisations with vital information regarding the issues faced by Roma. We also feel the Roma youths’ work will provide a rare insight into the community (this will result in the generation of financial support for Lunik IX). We would like to focus on the issues surrounding health and education in the community and believe these areas could be addressed through the body of work the young people produce. Our ultimate aim will be to generate interest in and financial support for Lunik IX.
The funding we are applying for would therefore cover the costs of compact cameras, printing, publishing and exhibiting expenses, production and promotion of the exhibition as well as our travel costs and the team's minimal daily rate. The funding would support the project in its initial stages; our intention is to create the revenue necessary to feedback into the community at Lunik IX through the exhibition, by collaborating with charities that will endeavour to use the funds to support Lunik IX.
Artur Conka and I have worked together before on the ‘Life Through A Lens’ project. We are aware of the importance of the roles we will assume as teachers, facilitators and as objective, experienced photographers and film makers to act as advocates within this particular community. We both welcome the opportunity to teach the groups whilst also documenting the youths and the overall project. We intend to constantly work and collaborate with the groups, in order to ensure that the outcome is meaningful to them, that it challenges stereotypes and that it directly addresses their current situation and aspirations for the future of their community.
The emerging body of digital work would be a collaborative project presented online and in an exhibition, accompanied by our documentation, as well as a published book that would include our body of research (text in Slovakian and English). Postcards and prints would be on sale at the venue, with all proceeds going towards the organisation that funds the project.
Information about the team
Documentary photographer, film maker and photography lecturer. Born in Košice, Lunik IX, in 1990 and of Roma origin.
Ever since I left the community in the early 90s I have longed to return and document the Roma people who live at Lunik IX. I have travelled to Lunik IX on three occasions, most recently in March 2012. While I was there I spent three weeks integrating with the community; my Auntie and her family are still living there. I photographed and filmed my family and other Roma to show the outside world the living conditions of this community. The book and the film are now on tour in the UK (Lunik IX: A Short Documentary by Artur Conka). While I was visiting Košice I was interviewed by the media in relation to coverage of Lunik IX, and in the UK I have been interviewed in national papers and on the radio. The film I produced and the associated book have won an award from the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.
While I was at Lunik IX I observed the breakdown of social structures and youth prospects. There is an overwhelming number of young men and women dependent on alcohol and drugs. I witnessed this first-hand, standing at a bus stop in Lunik IX when a group of youths started fighting about drugs; one of the youths was about 14 years old. Lunik IX has a large unemployment rate; quality of life for these people is extremely poor. The Roma are segregated from society and the rest of the world. Therefore, when reviewing the community and the issues it faces, I feel the most crucial of these is education. I believe that with your financial support, my colleague (Julia) and I can use this project to raise awareness of this issue and others, such as health, drug and alcohol abuse, in order to develop within the young people the confidence and skills they need to escape this poverty and the hopelessness of their situation.
Here are some useful links to my work as well as critical reviews and media coverage of the film.
Documentary photographer / film maker/ project founder and photography lecturer.
I have recently founded the ‘Life Through A Lens’ project for gypsy youths in England. I am interested in collaborating with communities to produce a meaningful, empowered body of work that acts as an agent for positive social influence and change. I regularly exhibit and present my documentary work nationally and have self-published my photography work. I am currently studying for a masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication. I have recently collaborated with Artur Conka; whilst visiting Lunik IX in Slovakia and during the gypsy ‘Life Through A Lens’ course that I initiated. We believe we will make the ideal team to develop and deliver the proposed project.
For more on the ‘Life Through A Lens’ project, follow the links below:
For more on my photography work, follow the links below:
The owner of this project has not made any updates yet.