A photography exhibition opening this week in Gunnersbury Park Museum in Ealing is the outcome of a remarkable collaboration between senior citizens from six different faith communities in West Ealing and Hanwell.
Faith in Suburbia: a shared photographic journey records their exploration of each others’ worship spaces through a photography project initiated by UCL geographer, Claire Dwyer and award-winning photographer Liz Hingley.
The six volunteers, recruited from Our Lady and St Joseph Catholic Church, St Thomas the Apostle Church, West London Islamic Centre, London Sikh Centre, Ealing Liberal Synagogue and Shri Kanaga Thurkkai Amman Hindu Temple had no prior experience of photography and most had never visited other places of worship in their neighbourhood.
Working under the guidance of Liz Hingley, whose portraits of some of the participants are also on show in the exhibition, the seniors took photographs to explore the different religious buildings. Participants then worked together to select images to produce six faith ’banners’ representing each faith. As a result, photography became an effective medium for the participants to learn what they had in common and also provided opportunities to build interfaith understanding.
When you’re using a camera you see the details, the patterns, the similarities between different places
Angie, Our Lady and St Joseph’s Catholic Church
"When you’re using a camera you see the details, the patterns, the similarities between different places," said Angie, a participant from Our Lady and St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Hanwell.
"Visiting the mosque and the Sikh temple and other places of worship has opened my eyes...it has broadened my mind in many ways. If other people did this it could bring the world together in a small way or even a big way," added Ram, from the Shri Kanaga Thurkkai Amman Hindu Temple.
The photography project, funded by UCL’s Public Engagement Unit, draws on the research of Claire Dwyer, Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit at UCL, on the significance of faith in the suburbs of London in the past and present.
"My research explores the role of faith and migration in the suburban landscape, in particular the changing uses of congregational religious buildings by successive migrant faith communities and continuities in religious practice for suburban residents," said Dwyer.
Panels produced by Dwyer will be shown alongside the photography banners offering a historical perspective of faith in suburbia.
"I hope the exhibition provides a catalyst for more interfaith interaction - and that visitors to the exhibition will also share their own knowledge and experience of faith, migration and suburban change in West London."
The exhibition is located at Gunnersbury Park Museum, Popes Lane, London, W3 8LQ. Admission is free, and the exhibition is open to the public from Saturday 16th February - Sunday 30th June 2013, Daily 11.00-16.00.