Photographer Jim Grover
Photographer Jim Grover
Clapham photographer Jim Grover reflects on his new exhibition that features people’s experiences during the pandemic as they sit on a local park bench…
Photographer Jim Grover is known for his images that tell stories, particularly those that celebrate daily life and local communities. His exhibition ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’ garnered huge acclaim, and was seen by 20,000 people, and his new work ‘Covid Tales from Tom’s Bench’ is proving just as compelling, telling the stories of how people have been impacted by the pandemic as they sit on a park bench in Clapham.
What do you hope people will take away from the exhibition?
I’d like people to reflect on the very different personal experiences that Covid has caused over the course of the year. For some, there have even been unexpected upsides, for others the complete opposite…and everything in between. I found Yvonne’s story [whose husband passed away] on the very last day of the project a combination of humbling, deeply moving, and harrowing…and it just re-enforced for me that I have been one of the lucky ones and really have nothing to complain about, whatever I may think on some days.
And I’d like people to reflect that this bench could be anywhere in the world with, very likely, the exact same stories and experiences…such is the global nature of this shared experience.
What were your feelings at the time when you were undertaking the project?
Like any creative, I have a desire to continue to make new work…whatever the circumstances…and to try to find new ways to tell the story of Covid. So whilst this required much more resolve and application than I had anticipated, it was worth it. And I have a genuine interest in local people, their lives and communities so this was a real pleasure and privilege for me.
What do you think the secret of your success is in using photography to tell a story?
I think people love being able to connect personal stories with the individuals themselves. Combining words with images of the individuals makes, hopefully, the viewer experience more intimate, personal and complete.
Obviously the people of Clapham inspire quite a lot of your work – do you think there is something special about the place that attracts those with a story to tell or do you think it is everywhere if we look closely enough?
Great question. I just love the cosmopolitan nature of Clapham, and the wonderful ethnic and cultural diversity all around me, every day. That also makes Clapham a wonderful place for me to document with images and words.
But I also believe that, if you look hard enough and you have a genuine curiosity and interest in people, there are a wealth of wonderful stories to be told, with a combination of words and images, wherever you live. This is my fifth local photo-story exhibition in the last six years, all of which have been different and covered by the national media such was their interest; who would have thought that was possible? And I have four more at various stages of development so watch this space!
Tell us more…
I would love to celebrate and recognise the remarkable Maurice Dorfman (who recently died) and the Dorfman family who, for a remarkable 60 years, served the local Clapham community through their haberdashery business on 22 Clapham High Street at Jeannette Fashions. Now that Maurice has died there is no one to pass the business one so it will disappear from the High Street after a long and rich history and contribution.
I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the exhibition (I have waived my commission fee given the circumstances). We’ve made a good start but need to raise a further £3,500 by November 19th. If I can just find 350 people to donate £10…!
How long have you lived in Clapham?
32 years…my 3 sons were all born and grew up here.
Where are your favourite places in the area?
The High Street (I’ve spent a lot of time there!); Cafe Delight on the High Street; the Common (especially Mount Pond…which is where the bench is!); Clapham Picture House; St James Church; Omnibus Theatre (there is a wonderful lunch to be had in the bar); and Knife restaurant.
What have been your favourite projects?
I loved spending a year with the Windrush generation in Clapham and Brixton, celebrating their lives, traditions and what they have brought to us. It led to ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’ – the exhibition has now been seen by over 20,000 people…and has given so much deserved pride and joy to the community. It doesn’t get much better than that as a documentary photographer!
- See ‘Covid Tales from Tom’s Bench’ at the Omnibus theatre until December 31 and on Jim’s website.
- ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’ is being restaged in the Brixton Tate Library until March 2021. Given Covid restrictions, viewing is by appointment only; please call 07701377983.