Crossing Paths: Five years, 150 towns, 1,500 British portraits

The Cut, Waterloo, South London - November 2013 Image copyright Niall McDiarmid

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.

Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption Tenby Street North, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham - December 2015

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.

Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption Dunraven Street, Tonypandy - May 2014

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.

Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption English Street, Carlisle - October 2015

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.

Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, London - September 2015

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.

Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption High Street, Sandown, Isle of Wight - August 2014
Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption Parade, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire - June 2015
Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption East Market Street, Edinburgh - April 2016
Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption Tooting High Street, South London - May 2016
Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption Penuel Lane, Pontypridd, Wales - May 2014
Image copyright Niall McDiarmid
Image caption Hope Street, Glasgow - August 2015

All photographs © Niall McDiarmid

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