The Great British September Clean

On Friday 25th September 2020, I was invited to Mellows Park to photograph Elliot Colburn, Member of Parliament for Carshalton and Wallington, and his team as they took part in the Great British September Clean.

This event happens every year in the spring and is organised by the Keep Britain Clean charity. Due to coronavirus restrictions earlier this year, the event was postponed until September and the reopening of the parks.

It was a sunny, but unusually chilly day. Elliot and his team all donned their hi-vis jackets, grabbed their litter pickers and set about clearing up the rubbish from the park - an apparently hot topic within the constituency!

It was clear from watching the team working that they were all passionate about the project. Daisy, for example, didn’t stop smiling the entire time. I almost wondered what she was hiding in that black sack of hers.

Whilst it is the “new normal” it was bizarre to see two colleagues standing so far apart while talking, but also reassuring to see people adhering to the rules. There were several people around the park that shouted their thanks to the team and it was a genuinely relaxed and happy atmosphere.

This is not the first time I have had the chance to photograph Elliot, having been his Election Campaign Photographer, and I certainly hope it’s not the last.

If you want to find out more about the Great British September Clean, you can visit Elliot’s website

Photography and the Gallery

Photography and the Gallery - London South Bank University

With the previous lockdown and new tightened rules, the art world has had to adapt to multiple challenges to continue working.

 Just before lockdown, we started to renovate the house - managing to decorate one bedroom before stripping the wallpaper off of the other.

This guerilla instalment shows a photograph of the decorated bedroom against the plaster of the one currently undergoing renovations.

CryerArts open air festival

Amateur dramatics was a big part of my childhood, I starred as Michael in Carshalton Pantomime Company’s version of Peter Pan at the Secombe Theatre when I was just 10 years old. A little known fact is that Charles Cryer started the Pantomime Company in what was then Carshalton Hall, which would later become known as the Charles Cryer Theatre.

The Theatre was opened in 1991 by Prince Edward and was the forefront for amateur theatre in the London Borough of Sutton for many years. However, following a lack of investment by Sutton Council in 2016 both the Charles Cryer and Secombe Theatre shut their doors with the Council gutting the Secombe Theatre to try and claw some profit from their killing off of the arts in Sutton

In November 2019, the CryerArts Theatre reopened under new management and local residents were overjoyed to have a theatre back in the borough. In March 2020, the Lockdown brought a stop to the Theatre industry across the United Kingdom.

Being a local theatre, CryerArts relies on the help of volunteers and ongoing shows to keep its doors open. Shows were being cancelled and whilst CryerArts had been building a reputation as an up and coming theatre, its doors were closed as they were unable to safely let patrons inside.

On Sunday 26th July CryerArts reopened its doors, or at least its car park, to hold a small open-air music festival. Even though the music didn’t start until 1pm, by midday the volunteers were having to turn people away as they had become full. The support for the small theatre from the local community was completely overwhelming and just goes to show how the Borough has missed its only remaining theatre.

Numerous live acts volunteered their time, performing for free to help raise some much-needed funds to keep the Theatre from having to shut down again and the passion from these artists was clear - this was THEIR theatre - and its doors will stay open. 

I’m proud to have grown up acting in the Charles Cryer Theatre and the fact that they’ve managed to overcome so much in recent years is testament to the hard work and dedication of the board of directors and the volunteers.

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