This year, TASSC (Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition) is celebrating 20 years as an organization - a huge milestone for the staff, founders, supporters and most importantly - survivors. TASSC is an organization whose mission is to end the practice of torture wherever it occurs and support survivors as they empower themselves, their families and communities wherever they are.
I have collaborated with TASSC to produce a series of portraits of the survivors that will be shown as an exhibition at a very special reception with the Founders and survivors at Open Society Foundations in Washington DC this week.
The exhibit “From Trauma to Resilience: Portraits of Torture Survivors” features 10 portraits of individuals who fled their home countries seeking safety, recovery and political asylum.
The accompanying statements capture the courage and determination that led them to seek assistance through TASSC in Washington.
I wanted to produce a series of portraits that were as powerful as the statements and stories of the individuals, to invite the viewer to see the survivors in the fullest measure of their humanity. I therefore asked the survivors —who come from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East—to choose photos from their past that held special meaning for them which I projected on to them in a studio.
Whether a serene landscape or a vibrant street scene, the projected images show emotionally charged moments which become part of the individual’s skin in the photographs.
Emotionally, the portraits push viewers to look beyond whatever pre-conceived notions they might have about refugees and asylum seekers and see them as individuals with very human connections to place and home.
Most of the survivors were tortured by repressive governments for “reasons” as varied as joining opposition political organizations, criticizing their governments publicly, refusing to join the ruling party, being related to a political dissident or because of their religion or sexual orientation. These courageous men and women were persecuted for standing up for freedom of speech or assembly or for exposing government corruption, fighting against gender-based violence or forced early marriage for girls.
Torture continues to be documented throughout the world. The refugee population statistics sites a large percentage as torture survivors with the current global refugee crisis being expected to explode this number.
For more information go to TASSC
I have been selected as a Nikon featured photographer on their “Inspirations” section of their Polish website.
This Polish language site was created to assist photographers in raising the quality of their art through education and inspiration. The site consists of three main sections. The first section is a tutorial, where technical information and ideas are presented as a support in educating photographers in the basic mechanics of photography. The second section highlights an “Author of the Month”. This section also employs an educational approach through the author giving concrete and practical assignments to the site’s users.
The third section has links to inspiring and interesting featured photographers from around the world.
I am a great believer that we never stop learning from our fellow photographers however much experience we have. I constantly find inspiration, and learn from, other photographers and hope that my pictures will do the same.
Mix Interiors magazine’s November issue ran a feature on the award winning Adobe workplace project with a selection of my pictures.
Mix Interiors is the leading magazine for the commercial interiors market. Aimed at the architectural and design community each issue of Mix Interiors includes a number of detailed case studies.
The Adobe scheme has been designed by Gensler and Hoare Lea, and managed by Turner & Townsend and is a mixture of open plan areas, meeting rooms, social hubs, a library, tech cafe and games room. The creative work environment equally prioritises both individual and group space and equips employees with the technology they need to easily and efficiently collaborate. A major feature includes a ‘Customer Experience Centre’ – providing UK and European customers with an environment to experience Adobe’s technology. The office boasts cutting-edge connectivity and technology alongside bright and open areas where teams can meet and work together, as well as quieter spaces for individual work.
An interconnecting feature staircase constructed in bold, red perforated metal mesh around a steel structure that sits on a combination of concrete and timber platforms. Light cubes on wire mimic falling pixels spreading through the void space. The feature stair connects staff across levels 7 and 8 and reflects the industrial feel of the building. The overall aim was to create a feeling of home, not just a workspace that tells the story of the Adobe brand and culture.
To read the online case study -
In August I photographed the new Nando’s restaurant in Altrincham. STAC Architecture has come up with another incredible unique design concept while adhering to Nando’s heritage.
Positioned in the prime location near the station and the main shopping area, the restaurant is spread over two floors. The dining space is generous with a mixture of large and small tables, plus intimate dining booths. STAC Architecture has worked with the original architecture of the building which was designed to showcase the latest products and attract shoppers through ornate detailing and sumptuous entrances. From the outside we can clearly see the distinctive bright yellow loose chain dividers around the booths and incorporated in the chandeliers plus in a sculptural curtain hanging from the ceiling.
If we move into the heart of the space, the design transitions from bold and vibrant, to the more natural, earthy elements of African design and materiality. The centre of the restaurant is a study in basics and calm, creating an oasis to enjoy and relax within. There is an amazing spiral stair case which is morphs from steel and glass to natural wood and cork. It joins the two floors with a natural fluidity. The lighting is a mixture of spots, Edison bulbs, concrete mounted bulbs and “Pulp Fiction Lamps” by Knus. The furniture ranges from bespoke benches and booths covered with leather and Kettal and Luna chairs.
Having photographed many restaurants in my time it always interests me how designers afford space for “the experience of dining” rather than maximising the number of diners. Most observers would say that chain restaurants are in the business of selling food. A strong counterargument is often made that these restaurants sell experiences, that food plays an important but by no means the only part. From the restaurateur’s viewpoint, however, a restaurants true inventory is the availability of a seat for the duration of the meal experience. To be able to increase the volume of sales, one needs to expand that inventory by increasing the number of available seats. Owing to the physical constraints of most restaurants, adding seats is not feasible. That leaves only one good way to increase inventory: turning tables more rapidly. Methods of increasing service efficiency and thus increasing seat turnover have been explored in depth. Improved server training is one popular approach; another is using operations engineering techniques to identify and correct service bottlenecks. But little attention has been paid to the power of the restaurant environment itself to contribute to table turns.
Design is an exciting and important component of a restaurant chain's success. Building an understanding of effective design can enhance the restaurant industry by creating more successful concepts for the customers to enjoy.