As part of our upcoming installation, Bring the Happy, we will be exhibiting a collection from local photographer, Anita Strasser. Here’s her take on Deptford and how people and place have inspired her work.
I’ve lived in many different countries and have always tried to make myself at home as much as possible by finding a place for myself in the local community. Coming from a village in the Austrian Alps, I’m used to bumping into familiar faces wherever I go, buying from local businesses, and chatting to shop owners, bus drivers and many others. I guess that it is due to my background that I always long for contact with the local community, together with an understanding of local history. Photography is a means of investigation as it allows me to address strangers and ask their names, about their habits, origins and other aspects of their lives. Wanting to become familiar with my new surroundings, and photograph them, creates this desire in me to enter the various individual shops or service spaces, and by doing so I dive into the worlds of locals, try their products and services and meet other people part of this community. In this way I slowly become part of it, and the feeling of being a member makes me feel at home.
When I moved to Deptford in autumn 2009, I was immediately struck by the strong sense of community here, something I never expected to find in a city like London. Seeing the same faces again and again, encountering groups of people chatting in the streets, hearing shop owners calling their customers by their first names and remembering their wishes from the last visit, shoppers actively supporting local businesses and speaking of the good old days – all this made me realise that I’d come to a special area worth my attention, and as this was my new place of living that I wanted to become a part of, I started my investigation in spring 2010. I’ve heard happy and sad stories, positive and negative aspects of life here, embellished memories of the past and worries about the future, all of which I have recorded to indicate the different attitudes and opinions, the different cultural backgrounds, and the changes that have taken place over the years.
You can see Anita’s work exhibited at the Deptford Lounge from 19 August – 5 September. More info here.
I was born in Austria in 1976 and went to London to study Photography at the London Institute, College of Printing (now London College of Communication), in 1997. My first solo exhibition took place in a London art shop in 1998 and I have since shown my work internationally in numerous solo and group shows. I live in south-east London and work mainly with urban communities in my local area. I am a member of London Independent Photography (LIP), Crossing Lines (a collaboration between LIP and the Centre of Urban Community Research at Goldsmiths College) and of the International Association of Visual Urbanists (iAVU). I am currently doing a Master’s Degree in Photography and Urban Cultures at the Sociology Department of Goldsmiths College, and am also working as an Academic Support Tutor on various programmes at the University of the Arts London (I also have a background in Linguistics with a Master’s in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from King’s College, London).