Crossing Paths: Five years, 150 towns, 1,500 British portraits
Niall McDiarmid has been photographing the people of Britain for five years now, though with the recent Brexit vote his work seems to have been given an extra edge. The work is far from political, but it's a real snapshot of a nation, with beautiful aesthetics thrown in. Here, McDiarmid speaks about the work.
The project began in early 2011, with a view to simply photographing interesting people I met on the street. After a couple of months, however, I started to focus on building a body of portraits that would be a celebration of British diversity, a social document of modern Britain.
I actively sought out people from different backgrounds and different ethnicities, often wearing attire that set them apart.
In each of us, there is a curiosity about the places we live, our cultural backgrounds, the clothes we wear, our family ties - ultimately our collective identity.
Visually, in film or photography, Britain has often been portrayed in subdued, monotone colours. This may partly have something to do with the weather, or maybe it's just traditional preconceptions coming into play.
By contrast, I've found inspiration in the bright colours and patterns that I encounter on every street of every town I've visited. They have shaped my stylistic approach, which often connects a subject's clothing to their surroundings, so weaving them into the scene they occupy.
Having crisscrossed the country as a photographer for almost six years, I see a nation visually enriched by cultural vibrancy and ethnic diversity.
Sadly, on my more recent travels I have encountered antagonism towards immigrants.
However, I firmly believe that most people in Britain welcome the more vibrant national identity that has emerged over the past 20 years.
My aim with British Portraits is to take the exhibition to different gallery spaces around Britain, each time adding new images taken locally to engage communities through portrait photography.
British Portraits by Niall McDiarmid can be seen at the Oriel Colwyn Gallery, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, from 1 September to 14 October 2016.
All photographs © Niall McDiarmid
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