Place Where We Dwell

Personal project showcasing some of my home town residents that are making a difference in the community

We have become more disassociated with the people around us as the decades go by with the sense of community all but gone. Who of us really know our neighbours? The people we live closest to? Maybe a polite hello but that’s as far as it goes. There are people with extraordinary lives, people from the other side of the world and they all have a story to tell. With this ongoing project I want to photograph the people in my community, the people that are making a difference in some way, making it a more pleasant place to live.
Felicia:

Felicia is a 65 Year old Mental Health nurse, she has 3 children but lives alone 5 doors up from me. Felicia is originally from Cape town South Africa and had been living here in the UK for the last 20 years.

I met Felicia one hot sunny day in July. I had just got back form a shoot and was stood chatting to my assistant on the road outside my house when Felicia came running out of her house a few doors up from me, she said “please help me I’ve got a big problem in the house and I don’t know what to do”, so I said my goodbyes to Andy and followed Felicia into her house. I was confronted with a waterfall pouring from her kitchen ceiling there was water everywhere and getting deeper. I tried to find the water mains in the house but there was nothing, I eventually found it outside on the pavement and managed to turn it off. After the water had stopped flooding down from the ceiling we chatted for a while and I found out lots of things about her and her life, this is when I came up with the idea for this project.

Sarah Martin:

Sarah is a fine artist from Northampton. Ive known Sarah for a couple of years now, she used to be my hairdresser but recently left to pursue her art career and is doing amazingly well. Originally from South Africa Sarah is an intensely creative person, she has been a Stand Up Comedian, a top flight hairdresser and an incredible fine artist with a very unique style. I contacted her about my Place Where We Dwell project to see if she’d be up for a photo shoot and she kindly obliged.

Steve: Driver menswear

Steve is the owner of Driver, a true independent Mens wear shop in Northampton. I am an avid sneaker collector and Driver has been the go-to shop for clothing and trainers in Northampton since the late 80’s. Driver is more than just a clothes shop to me and for many others like me, it’s a place to hang out, chat and browse the shelves for the freshest new threads. Steve always finds time to stop and see how you are, you can walk in there at 10am and leave a 2pm without buying a thing.

Steve came to the UK from Trinidad with his mum when he was 3 years old. They settled in Northampton and have lived here ever since. Steve opened the doors to Driver back in 1987 with business partner Tony with a loan from the Prince’s Trust for £2000. They started by selling Vintage clothing with brands such as Ralph Lauren, Levis and Brooks, Steve was a Soul Boy back then and was always at the forefront of the latest fashions. As the years and fashions changed they moved with the times and now are a primary stockist for Stussy, Carhartt and Adidas to name a few.

Although Driver has been in business for over three decades Steve has come to a crossroads in his life. With the rise of the internet and the recession in full swing Steve struggled to keep afloat, people weren’t spending money on non essential items and the large online stores were selling the same product but at much cheaper rates. This, along with the illness of his business partner forced Steve to re-mortgage his house over and over again to keep the shop open for his very loyal customers.

Things are now beginning to pick up, Steve says, “people miss the real shopping experience” but he’s unsure if he can compete with the online stores and is contemplating selling up. Whatever he decides to do Driver and Steve are a big part of the community I live in and will always remain the number one clothes shop in Northampton.

Steve-2-gavin-wallace-photography

Adriana & Francesco:

Adriana is the owner of The Italian Shop, an amazing authentic Italian delicatessen at the end of my street. I go there most weekends to pick up fresh Italian bread, they do the most amazing Sicilian cannoli’s! Much like Steve at Driver Adriana makes you feel at home as soon as you enter the shop, many people staying for a coffee and a chat, sometimes for hours!

Adriana, born to an Italian father opened The Italian shop in 2012 with some money her Nonno had left her after passing away. Recently divorced with two children she wanted to change her life and decided that with the money she would go out and do something with it. When an old butchers shop came up for lease she decided to jump in at the deep end and turn a cold and dreary shop into what is now a lovely authentic Italian food shop and cafe.

Gabriella:

I met Gabriella when I was on another shoot for this series at the Italian Deli which is round the corner from where I live. I found out from her boss that she was an aspiring athlete, a very good one in fact so we got talking and I asked her to be part of this project.

Gabriella is 23 years old and is born and raised in Northampton. She was very hyperactive as a child and it was her Dad that first took her down to the local track to see if she could burn some of that energy off. She fell in love with running from that day and set her sights on becoming a professional athlete.

Since that day she has gone on to be selected to compete at the English Schools Championships when she was 18. This is the highest level you can reach nationally and she was ranked 12th in the country for the 1500m steeplechase. Gabriella is also an English national medalist over the 2000m cross country and was selected to compete at the British University Championships for three consecutive years. She runs for Rugby & Northampton AC and her goal is to make the British rankings for the 3000m & 5000m which will give her the chance to represent Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games.

Gabriella-1-gavin-wallace-photography

Richard Wright:

Richard is 78 years old, a loving father of 7 and an identical twin that also married an identical twin which is pretty amazing in itself. He is a massive sports fan with his main passion being Cricket although he does love his West Ham Football team. Richard worked at Carlsberg brewery for most of his working life and was Canning Foreman at the time of his retirement in 1999.

In 2007 after a day up at the Cricket Richard suffered a stroke whilst walking home and was found 2 hours later by a passer bye in an alley way. Since then his twin brother passed away which affected him deeply and to add to this he was diagnosed with leukaemia where he has to have weekly blood transfusions plus he has the early onset of alzheimer’s.

Aleks Klarecka:

Aleks  lives two doors up from me and he is the son of Artur & Daria,  a Polish family who moved to Northampton 10 years ago. Alex was born with a growth deficiency which means that although he is 13 years old he resembles a 9 year old. This led to bullying when he joined school, at the time he didn’t speak very much English, had Speech and Language difficulties and was extremely shy. This added fuel to the bullies fire. So in a bid to stop this from happening his dad enrolled him at the local MMA gym. Since he joined his confidence has grown and the bullying has subsided.

Kerry Wright:

Kerry Wright is a full time Nursery School teacher, coordinator, Charity organiser and one of life’s angels. Kerry is the Daughter of Richard Wright who I photographed earlier in this project. She works for Gloucester Avenue Nursery School in Northampton and has been working there for the past 9 years. During that time she has Trekked across the Sarah desert, walked 100 miles in 24hrs, run the London Marathon and held numerous events all for Charities close to her heart. She works tirelessly helping the less fortunate in the local community, organising fun days, Christmas hampers for the elderly and generally being the person that people in need can rely on to lend good advice and a shoulder to cry on. We need more people in the world like Kerry, if we did it would be a much better place to be!