70/70 Vision was commissioned as a celebration of the seventieth anniversary of Harlow, a new town in the UK borne of the radical New Towns Act of 1946. It was an attempt to focus on the residents of the town, rather than the architecture and master plans that more usually spring to mind when we think of New Towns. What we have discovered in our journey to this publication and its accompanying touring exhibition is an intimate exploration of life, of possibility and the impact one person’s story can have on each of us.
Conversation was our starting point. We too often hear of a lack of understanding or connection between communities and people living so closely together, sharing the same streets, shops and schools. We wanted to start a conversation, make that connection and capture a moment spent sharing time together.
This project has touched us. We have heard expressions of community, of connection; of the value of different experiences and of a diversity of voices. We have heard personal stories of endeavour and triumph, of hardship and exclusion. But time and time again what has shone through is a belief in Harlow and its future. 70/70 Vision seems to have captured the shared experiences we reveal when we talk together. It has demonstrated that in our fast paced daily lives and in times of change, conversation really matters.
and a personal word from the photographer and interviewer, Chris Haddon:
“Why is it that we often judge others on face value alone? How can we conclude that we know the, often complex, intricacies of someone’s life in a fleeting moment or even when they’re in front of you?
Whether we admit to it or not, it’s inevitable that we’ll make assumptions about those we encounter or observe on a daily basis. At times we may feel that our opinions are well founded, but are these conjectures based on what we actually see or what we want to see?
It appears that we’re living in an era where we infrequently take the time to converse and challenge our preconceptions. Social media – which is anything but – can perpetuate opinions if not scrutinised with an open mind. When beliefs of others, which can be peppered with bias or ignorance, are given credence or not challenged, they can become entrenched in our psyche as truths. Conversation matters now, more than ever before.
Therefore the objective of 70/70 Vision (70 photographic portraits and 70 narratives) is to fuel conversation and breakdown misconceptions between generations, faiths, nationalities and classes – with the aim of supporting a stronger more unified town.
Any concerns when starting this project, about whether there’d be an unwillingness to talk were ill founded. Instead, with those who kindly agreed to be involved, there was genuine openness in recounting their inspiring and thought provoking lives which, in one way or another, have centred around Harlow.
On a personal note, I found the project hugely rewarding. It was a privilege to have a conversation with 70 people, which in all honestly, I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to meet”.