University of Westminster Photography graduate, Martin Dixon, is releasing a collaborative booklet of writing by Christopher Jones and images by himself, based around a council estate in South London. This body of work grew from Martin's degree project Estate of Mind.
Text from the booklet itself is in italics in this blog post.
Catch Us If You Can is a reworking of Martin Dixon’s 2014 photobook Estate of Mind – photographs of Tabard Gardens Estate alongside text from Christopher Jones.
There is a photograph taken in 1913 of the slums that were demolished to make way for the social idyll of the Tabard Gardens Estate. The inhabitants stand in their doorways, moody and suspicious at this act of municipal surveying. 'Catch Us If You Can' is the reverse of this act. It covers the same local territory but our surveying aims to reimagine living histories from the bricks, passageways, stairwells and bannisters of Tabard.
We wanted Catch Us If You Can to be both affordable and available for local residents. Chris had already published pamphlets for Past Tense Publications – which was ideal. We printed the text on a risograph printer, the images on a digital printer and assembled them by hand. We linked the booklet launch to The David Idowu Peace Day, an annual event commemorating local teenager David Idowu who lost his life in 2008, yards from his home to knife crime.
At the nearby Elephant and Castle the huge Heygate Estate has been sold off to developers, demolished and its residents scattered. While the Tabard Estate appears safe for the moment we have to keep a tight eye on the relentless gentrification of London’s social housing.
Pressure and forces exist all around that want to snatch this all away, to take it back and banish us. Present from the material details and the joy we found in the landscape is the determination that what we already have here is what we want to keep. That means all of us. Catch Us If You Can!
As Catch Us If You Can is a separate entity to the Estate of Mind photobook we needed a new title, and what better than the film Catch Us If You Can by the Dave Clark Five – the start of which was filmed 50 years ago, here on the Tabard Estate.
Later, the Dave Clark Five, less famous than The Beatles or Jesus, in the opening to their film ‘Catch Us If You Can’, pour out, running and ageless, from the old Church with mid-60s smiles free then from the pressure of the economy and into the Tabard Gardens. The long gone church, in aspect remarkable, but now the gap is also pleasing to the soul, removes itself from the film shot and the five boys tear the place up and head for the playground. Their group mistake was to jump from swing to swing and roundabout to roundabout and not to get on hands and knees and listen to what is under the grassy ground.
Future aims for the work
Now that the booklet is launched our main aim will be to distribute it. We’ll be selling it locally, pushing it out to bookshops and it will also be available online
Is the series finished?
This particular piece of work is finished which opens the door to new possibilities. I am currently photographing the final days of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre and for now I’m posting the work here.
You can find out more about Catch Us If You Can here and also attend the booklet launch on Saturday, 9th July in Tabard Gardens Park, London SE1.