Us and them
DO NOT miss Andrew Wiard's first retrospective exhibition! Andrew, a freelance photojournalist, is a member of London Photographers' Branch and is on the Freelance Industrial Council and National Executive of the NUJ.
You may think you know his work. Certainly several of the seventy photographs he's selected evoke memory of protests and riots now used as benchmarks: Grunwick 1976, Brixton 1981, students smashing windows at the Conservative Party HQ 2010, and environmental campaigns such as the one against GM crops.
"They brought back so many memories of protest, community action and civil rights struggles - either I was there myself or it was part of my 'British heritage'!" says Heidi Mirza, professor of Equalities Studies at the Institute of Education. "My stories were in his pictures - faces and places triggered off my own individual memories. It isn't nostalgia - they were hard times in 70s and 80s - particularly with the racism and fight for women's equality, and it is still like that now with the student uprisings - the energy of which Andrew captured so well."
These pictures make fresh statements from gallery walls in large beautiful prints. Admire their composition. Spirals move through light and shade in an African National Congress children's school at a secret guerrilla camp. A lone black cop back in the 1980's is pilloried by a snaking swirl of men accusing him of shifting to 'Them'.
Wonder at the juxtaposition of Ken Livingstone, hands as in prayer, above Brigader Bob Doyle in Barcelona on the fiftieth anniversary of the disbandment of the International Brigade. Then note "Captain Bob" (aka Robert Maxwell) below the Potter's Bar train crash.
"Us and Them is not about race, gender, or religion, but about the people and the politicians," holds artist Ayat Alhaji, studying MA Art and Politics, Goldsmith's. She was reminded of how she'd felt looking at Simon Norfolk's very different images from Afghanistan: "These works are of high importance. Like jigsaw puzzles they assemble reality for us. Such works, which reflect individual actual experiences, are far more effective and powerful than what the general press tries to imply through its biased agenda, even when it is anti-government."
No neat timeline of Andrew's progression as a photojournalist is provided, though he acknowledges his mentor Simon Guttmann, at Report, who died in 1990 after a lifetime of initiating many famous people, including Robert Capa. Tessa King, who worked at Report 1979-1981 remembers: "You could guarantee that Andrew would go out on a job and come back with The Picture."
Unexpected and engaging captions accompany the work, telling us something of a vocation to witness. Here is an eye with a memory, who thinks about the people he has photographed and does not forget the struggle.
- Us and Them is on until 28 July 2012, daytimes, not Sundays at the Karamel Club which is on Coburg Road in Wood Green, London N22 and is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 3pm. Lunch is served between 12pm and 2.45pm; Saturday opening hours are 10am to 3pm. On Fridays it opens in the evenings from 7pm with last orders at 9:30pm.