In 2020, the most extraordinary year in recent history, people flocked to their local parks and green spaces seeking solace and a sense of community. The restorative effect of these spaces, and the access to nature that they offer, was never more keenly felt than when set against the backdrop of a global pandemic. ‘Parklife’ is a series that emerged out of this strange time. It was published by Hoxton Mini Press in the summer of 2021.
In the spring of 2020 I found myself, like many, knocked sideways. The world became untethered – all our rituals of normality removed against the backdrop of a global pandemic. But then something magical happened: the first buds of spring appeared, and the bright April sunshine beckoned us outside. We ventured to our local parks for our single dose of daily exercise and, perhaps for the first time, we noticed the crocuses appear and the slow blossoming of the trees. Without the steady hum of traffic and the airplanes in the sky, the birdsong became our new soundtrack. We were restored and calmed by the natural world on our doorsteps.
During this time my love of London’s parks deepened. I’ve always been captivated by the life reflected in them – an almost utopian microcosm of our wider society. In a world increasingly motivated by profit and status, the park is a space that symbolises democracy. 40 percent of London’s surface area is made up of publicly accessible green spaces – from parks to commons, greens, cemeteries, woodlands, waterways and marshes. These enclaves occupy some of the most expensive real estate in the world (and with some of the most breathtaking views) yet remain free and communal spaces for all – making London a unique capital city.
Last spring, I decided to pick up my camera to capture the diversity of people whose lives are enriched by these extraordinary green spaces. It is my hope that these images will transcend the time in which they were made. For while these spaces have been a lifeline for capital dwellers during lockdown, their importance precedes this time and will extend beyond it. Parks touch the lives of all Londoners – from family gatherings to first dates, walks with friends to solo rambles – and for this they should be celebrated.
In short, Parklife is my love letter to London’s green spaces.