Suburban Subutopia

Exploring contentedness within suburbia with photographer, Wes Foster

Words by Wes Foster

Suburbia is a place that is often overlooked – it is so familiar to us that it feels as if it has come together organically. It is, unlike most other architecture, entirely not designed. Town planners have a hand in it, architects (or builder’s draughtsmen) have a hand in it, and the residents, primarily, have a hand in it.

The way they mow their lawn, keeping it either to a few centimetres of richly light green blades of grass or keeping it as an unkempt swamp of plants and vegetation; the way the front of the house is painted, with a rich white tone, left bare brick or left slowly for the paint that was once there to visibly chip away and eventually disappear; the way that either a stack of objects are left lining themselves along the windowsill, cacti and other plants or a row of dusty books, or in student properties a row of empty alcohol bottles as an act of strange bravado, or nothing at all to adorn the foremost point of the house.

All of these things contribute to the vernacular aesthetic of suburbia, but because it is so familiar, so ingrained it becomes passed over. Suburban Subutopia looks at taking these incredibly familiar places and placing them into an aesthetic context, through a photographic medium. Shooting on 645 but scanning on an extremely high resolution Hasselblad machine allows the dichotomy of contradiction between the form the image takes (the scan) and the subject (the familiar). This is the familiar, but in hyper detail, removed in slight uncomfort from reality, to highlight how we do not think or look at these areas – they simply are an organic development, and nothing more than the spaces that we occupy, that we cook in, that we sleep in, that we exist in.

Politically the project is bipartisan, though has some definite political readings – the images have a certain boundary threshold and either through distance or by the way in which the façade is a times cloaked by the fence or walls, hedges or trees with which we surround our private space, paralleling the nationalist feelings which have been portrayed by the media as the reasons for voting for people like Trump and for leaving the EU, though I see it more as a reflection for how true feelings are closeted, held behind the closed doors of normal residential areas, whilst they are let out in the way we vote or the comments section of news sites. This second life, in which we can live without
accountability and judgement spills out, but mostly we keep up the face of contentedness in the face of unhappiness. In a post-truth society, in which we have dismissed the word of experts, there is nothing stable, and there is no other outlet than the anonymous, because neo liberalism has made the focus of society upon the individual, not on groups. Tabloid newspapers critique people for how they looks, whilst broadsheets blame the individual rather than groups in an across the board ideological movement to separate, and dismiss any idea of pride between people.

Behind these closed doors and walled pathways, gnomes and ponds, ferns and trampolines, there is anger at the system which is left unexpressed, easily guided to populist nationalist expressions of how society can be changed in a simplistic way through fundamentally changing a single thing, rather than entire society, because it is simpler and safer. In part, these images begin to glorify and celebrate these areas again, which otherwise have felt no new funding, no new regeneration, and no outside interest. Because of this, there is little pride in community, little togetherness, and the things which divide are seen as more important than those which bring us together. These images begin to recognise the aesthetic value that is produced in a milieu of housing and residencies, despite it usually being completely unconsidered; by recognising the part we all play in the fruition of the façade we destabilise it, and therefore make it recognised for the aesthetic it is, rather than another overlooked piece of land.

Canine Fancy

Jack Curtis Joyce photographs dog showing culture in a series exploring niché hobbies

Words by Jack Curtis Joyce

Canine Fancy is a project taken from my ongoing Niché Hobbies series, in which I explore pastimes that are seen as nothing to the masses but everything to the few.

Dog showing is the most common form of canine competition in the UK. The Kennel Club set a breed standard for each Pedigree dog breed it recognises, this outlines the ideal configuration and characteristics for that breed. While competing in the ring each dog is examined and compared against this criteria by a judge, this is combined with pattern work where exhibitors are asked to move around the ring in a certain pattern to show the dogs movements to determine the nearest ideal example of the breed. There are usually 5 placings, from 1st to 3rd followed by reserve and very highly commended.

In the series I traveled between the Midlands and Bristol attending various shows ranging in size. From small singular breed shows in Yelvertoft, groups shows in Coventry and the largest of the year, Crufts in Birmingham.

Although this is a series about dog showing, I seldom documented the competitions. The aim of the project was to visually document dog showing culture and at the same time gain an understanding of why it was taken part in with such passion and determination. Focusing on the individual exhibitors, the environments the competitions took place in and the objects found within them gave me a much deeper insight in to the Canine Fancy psyche.

Yellow Pages

Photographer, Louis Higgins captures the night-time allure of public telephone boxes in the city of Bristol

Words by Louis Higgins

Like most photography, this project was a happy accident. I stumbled across a beautifully lit telephone box at night in my neighborhood in Bristol. I was shocked to realise that I had gone over 15 years without noticing a single one of these objects (that are everywhere in the urban landscape). In the daytime telephone boxes fade into the background and are obsolete, but by night, as if my magic, they become almost romantic spaces, which can tell so much about the spaces they inhabit. After shooting a few of these telephone boxes the project progressed into a study of the socio-economic landscape of Bristol. I began shooting the phone boxes in different demographic areas to see whether they reflected the economic status of the area they existed in. Often they did. I couldn’t stop noticing them once I had started this project. I soon became besotted with them and was compelled to preserve these spaces. They represent to me a time gone by and show how quickly society has moved into the digital age. I named the project Yellow Pages as this too represents a redundant service, but also evokes a strong sense of nostalgia.

At the Gates of Europe

Photographer, Marcus Drinkwater documents Belgrade’s refugee crisis

Words by Marcus Drinkwater

Walking North down Nemanjina Street, past the ruins of the Yugoslav Ministry of Defence building, a noxious scent fills the air, each nauseating inhalation more excruciating than the last. The toxic fires billow into the cold Serbian air, here, in Belgrade, where over a thousand refugees are currently enduring conditions no man in his right mind should never willingly live in. Migrants err like shadows between the city’s main bus and rail station and the Belgrade Waterfront, the controversial housing development which has made waves in recent debate.

Due to a hardening of immigration legislation and heavy border reinforcements, the Balkan route for migrants wishing to gain entry to Europe is currently at a standstill. Whether attempts are made on foot or in the ram-packed lorries of profit-driven smugglers, those desperate to reach Western Europe face sub-zero temperatures and infamously brutal police forces, mostly to no avail; their arduous march has now reached a glacial halt.

Serbia is no stranger to high influxes of refugees, the Yugoslav War having brought hundreds of thousands of individuals streaming though in the 1990s, but tensions between locals and migrants run high nonetheless. With no heat, a single, meagre source of clean water to and finite sustenance to share between such a number of people, every day is a battle for survival in what is informally referred to amongst migrants as ‘the Squat’. To save themselves from frostbite in temperatures known to fall below -15C at night, people burn railway sleepers and flammable products taken out of bins, providing them heat at the cost of toxic fumes. Akin to that of coal miners at the turn of the century, many have skin stained black from the poisonous smoke.

The so-called Squat has become something of purgatory at the gates of Europe; although government funding has allowed the construction of makeshift camps providing water, sanitation, and recreation, many refugees refuse to go there, choosing rather to risk everything to cross the border into the European Union. The lucrative business of human trafficking is thriving in Belgrade. Smugglers loiter in bars around the central train station, charging fees of two thousand euros upwards, bearing in mind that the risk is rarely worth the prize: at the Hungarian border, the fate faced by refugees is hardly an improvement. Many migrants bare the mental and physical wounds inflicted upon them by hard-lined anti-immigration police, who, with their dogs and their truncheons, inflict retribution on people’s will for a better existence.

The complexity and variety of reasons leading to such an exodus are nearby impossible to comprehend in the face of such hardships. Having grasped a mere inkling of their day-to-day struggles, one wonders how the hellish conditions here in Belgrade could possibly be worse than that which these people flee. One could venture that this is the very heart of the migrant conundrum, as the question for many is not about having an idyllic life, but a choice between a rock and a cold place.


As border restrictions in to Europe tighten, refugees, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan squat in disused warehouses in the centre of Belgrade. Many opting not to move to state run camps because of fear of deportation back to Bulgaria or Macedonia. They burn rubbish and railway sleepers to keep warm and keep away hypothermia, though this does create a thick black toxic smoke.
Belgrade, Serbia. 24/01/17.


A Pakistani refugee at the age of 14 from the Peshawar region covers his face with a blue scarf to protect him from toxic smoke inhalation.
Belgrade, Serbia. 25/01/17.


With no sanitation activist groups have erected basic toilets so the refugees can have some privacy. It stands in contrast to the locally controversial “Belgrade Waterfront” property development funded by investors from the UAE.
Belgrade, Serbia. 26/01/17


Ahmad fled Kabul Province in Afghanistan as Taliban were searching for his two brothers as they were aiding the American Military with translation. He hopes to meet them in the future in France. As there is no source of running warm water many heat it up on the toxic fires created to keep warm in the sub-zero Serbian winter.
Belgrade, Serbia. 26/01/2017.


Refugees receive aid from Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders for many conditions ranging from general health to smoke inhalation. Recently they have reported an increase in frostbite. This particular case was caused when making the journey to the Croatian Border, and when better he will make a second attempt.
Belgrade, Serbia. 26/01/2017.


The squalid conditions where the refugees call their home, some have been there several months.
Belgrade, Serbia. 25/01/2017.


Matiullah, 16 just arrived in the Belgrade squat with some friends. It has been a long arduous journey via foot and smuggler though Macedonia, leaving Nangarhar Province in Eastern Afghanistan 8 months ago.

Belfast Punk (Warzone Centre 1997 – 2003)

A book by photographer, Ricky Adam documents 90s Belfast’s punk scene

Words by Ricky Adam

The photographs in this book were taken sporadically over the years between 1997 - 2003, a small window of time considering the Warzone Collective opened its first venue in 1986. They were some of the first photographs I ever shot.

In hindsight, I wish I’d taken more, but at the time, I wasn’t purposely documenting things. I just happened to have a camera and snapped photos here & there whenever I thought of it. This was in the pre-digital era, so there aren’t many photos of the Warzone Centre from around this time. I stopped in about 2003 when the Warzone closed its doors.

People may say, “Who cares about punk in the 90’s? Wasn’t it all over by the early 80s?” But the truth is, punk (or whatever you want to call it) never went away. It may have lost its gimmicky, commercial appeal, but it didn’t die - it just seeped into the underground.

Punks live by their own rules & these photos reveal more than the drinking & dancing depicted here. Being a punk, especially in a city like Belfast was a political statement in itself. Not only were young punks kicking against ‘the man’, they were also kicking against sectarian divisions. Amid a historically troubled city with dark forces still swirling around, the ‘Warzone Centre’ remained a beacon of light and became the counter-cultural alternative hub for the greater Belfast area and beyond.

A Day At The Races

Sophie Green photographs the Ultimate Street Car Festival at Santa Pod Raceway

Words by Sophie Green

Rain, more rain, drunk people, high people, drum & bass, dodgy hair, flat caps, tattoos, gold chains, piercings, sun shine, tank tops, topless chests, slush puppies, hot dogs, chips, chicks, fast cars, pimped out cars, racer boy heaven. Snap, snap, snap 14 rolls shot. Done - a day at the races.

Wimbledon

Photographer, Callum Painter captured a Norwich sports centre-turned-skate park before its demolition in 2014

Words by Callum Painter

Decaying buildings and overgrown fields replaced the image of the Lakenham Sports Club in Norwich. Although the gates were locked and the threat of demolition was there, the community attitude that this space sustained surprisingly didn’t dissolve but simply changed hands. This place became a fitting home for the skateboarders of Norwich.

Named ‘Wimbledon’ after its tennis courts, it became a canvas for people of all ages to use after work or school and invent, using various objects found from what seemed an endless scrapstore from the once graceful buildings around it.

The sports centre was truly once at the heart of the community. All four sides of this area shared its perimeter with neighbourhood gardens. Local residents were happy to see people climbing the fence to recycle the derelict place for an unexpected purpose.

A petition to prevent the land being developed into property was started to bring back this social space to the wider community. It gained some ground but in the winter of 2014 contractors were on site tearing up the tennis courts and bulldozing the buildings to the ground.

As a publisher and Community Interest Company, TRIP is dedicated to showcasing unconventional stories that may otherwise be overlooked. We aim to give a platform to the unseen and a microphone to the ignored. Expression is a right and should not be confined to those that can afford to work for free; which is why we strive to support a diverse range of creatives in their work, commissioning exciting projects and creatives to visualize them.
 

Founded as a magazine in 2013 by photographer, Dean Davies, TRIP was born from a desire to provide opportunity and exposure for image-makers across multiple platforms and medias. With a focus on people and place, in 5 years TRIP gained a loyal readership, and became known for its honest image output and representation of the underrepresented, featuring over 800 image-makers from across the world through a website, 5 magazines and 3 free zines.
 

As TRIP C.I.C. we are not interested in profiting from the activities of the organization, and re-invest all income back in to consecutive publishing projects.
 

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Alfie Allen
 

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