Monday, 9 May 2011

Leicester feature for Russian Reporter

A few weeks ago I shot a feature for Russian Reporter on Leicester, the 10th largest city in the UK.
The story was based on the  prediction that Leicester will become the first city in the UK with a non-white majority. I was free to explore and interpret this story as I saw it.

I've never been to Leicester before and apart from my London project, "Invisible", I haven't shot a story in the UK for years.

One of the first things that you realise is that Leicester is not London. Statistics are interesting but can also be misleading.
London is a truly multicultural city, and I soon realised that the population of Leicester is roughly similar to individual boroughs in London and there are a number of London boroughs that are less than 50% white.
So, if I move around my area of London, I see pretty much every corner of the world represented, not only that, but people are living almost on top of each other. My "Invisible" project addresses some of the issues of how we occupy and share a space. More on this in a couple of months, I am in the process of finishing this work and have a preview exhibition/installation lined up for July in London.

What I found in Leicester, is a city that is very proud of it's status as a successful multicultural city. It has become an official and unofficial line, with almost everyone singing to  the same tune. The psychology of this is interesting, in the same way that negative stories repeated start to reinforce believes and behaviour, in Leicester the spin is one of pride of it's multicultural status.

What I observed in Leicester was that although the workplace, business and the city centre were multicultural, the residential areas were fairly segregated, the East and North mainly non white and the South and West mostly white. Also on a social level people seemed to keep to their own kind or tribe,  giving you two different levels of interaction, the private and the public.
In many ways, maybe this is one of the ways multiculturalism works. We recognize and respect difference, people live in peace with each other and overlap as and when. In the end we all live in our own tribes, be it by income, age, ethnicity, subcultures.
So I decide to photograph the different ethnic groups in there tribes, time didn't permit me to explore the mixed space of work and the city centre.

Later this year the 2011 census data will come out, so it will be interesting to see if Leicester is the first Non White City in the UK.

All Photographs ©George Georgiou 2011


Mark said...

Very interesting project.... and I will look out for your London show in July

Anonymous said...

George, great to see and read your observations. You showed me spots and places where I haven't been even currently based in Leicester. Myself, I still haven't found the real face of Leicester. So, it was a nice excursion with your series. Baiba