These are community photography projects where individuals submit photographs of the area in which they live over the course of one year, capturing glimpses of life around them.
They are designed not only to reveal, define and preserve an area’s identity, but also to help change the way people appreciate it.
For centuries, painting and drawing depicted and interpreted reality. When photography was invented, it was possible to record things exactly as they were. It was a revolution. The earliest photograph was taken in 1826. The first one ever to show people (a man polishing somebody’s shoes) was taken by Daguerre, in Paris in 1838-39. How moving is that?
Over the years, equipment has improved until today’s digital cameras and smartphones. The digital revolution means that photography is within everyone’s reach.
So, what better time to record life as it is today?
In spring 2007, living in Faversham, I made a call to town residents, launching the idea: recording a year in the life of Faversham in pictures, one for each day of a year, taken by local residents, amateur and professional photographers.
365 was most likely to succeed as a community project, open to anyone wanting to contribute. It is sometimes best to do things yourself with community effort, rather than wait for authorities to take the initiative.
Pictures were submitted from July 2007 to June 2008.The first exhibition opened in September 2008 and a book was published, both showing 365 images selected by a jury out of hundreds of submissions.
The project showed different ways in which to capture the town, the well known as well as the less reported aspects of life. We wanted participants to take an honest look at their town and its people in the reality of every day.
The event gave us all a rare opportunity to celebrate Faversham; the town was the star in all of it. It was a portrait of Faversham, maybe a subjective one, but one rich in passion.
In many ways it has not been without challenges. But the moment the first exhibition closed, generating much enthusiasm from the public, I knew there would be another one. In fact, a further five exhibitions took place, in Faversham, Canterbury, Sheppey and Whitstable, attracting thousands of visitors.
These are impressions of life covering extremely diverse subjects. The photographs explore what people do at home and at work, presenting day-to-day life as it is lived. They also describe the colourful way they entertain themselves. The pictures capture other moments too, objects and landscapes. This diversity demonstrates the various ways photographers observe aspects of their community.
Each of the six projects has both artistic and historical value. They combine the objectivity of documentary with a reflective and artistic approach. The result tells a story visually and reveals a proud community.
365 aims are to motivate people to get involved in the area in which they live. It helps residents gain a sense of community and a sense of place. It also gives them a voice, so they can express what is important to them. It motivates them to make use of their camera and get into creative activities.
Extract from the Evaluation report issued in 2010 (Evaluation by Fay Blair): “The feedback was remarkable, in both the sheer number of positive comments, and in what it revealed about people’s positive feelings towards the town and surroundings, its community, culture and heritage.
Visitors were amazed by the amount of local creative and artistic photographic talent and the quality and diversity of the photos. Reflected was a strong sense of local pride in Faversham, its culture, and heritage, quirkiness, beauty of the locality and appreciation of community spirit.
For some, photos revealed often littleknown historical aspects or aspects that people had not noticed before or had taken for granted. Others were thrilled at recognising older relatives and friends in some of the pictures and the memories it evoked. The novelty and concept of this ‘365’ project and uniqueness of this type of social record was remarked upon, as something of value, and that other communities might adopt.”
As a record, it will ensure that future generations will have a vivid picture of Kent towns. It doesn’t claim to have recorded everything that happened – this would be impossible – but it does show a varied range of subjects.
Along the way, the photographs remind us of how much we have to lose. The world around us is changing, with traditional characteristics slowly disappearing, buildings being built and destroyed, people coming and going, businesses appearing, growing or disappearing, so recorded images become part of our visual heritage. They make us aware and create things to think about.
Our current project – ‘365 Get Creative’ – is designed to record a year in the life of creative people in Kent. It runs alongside the BBC ‘Get Creative campaign’, a major celebration of the nation’s arts, culture and creativity.
The campaign aims to boost creativity in the UK, as well as celebrating the millions of people already doing something artistic and creative every day. It sets out to encourage a broad audience to engage more meaningfully with the arts.
The campaign was launched 19 February 2015, by BBC Arts in partnership with cultural movement What Next? and leading arts and cultural organisations across the country.
When 365 first started, I was interested in what people would do to contribute. I found quite astonishing the amount of creative talent that has come out of it.
It is my wish that, for years to come, our children will look at these images with wonder.