London, United Kingdom
Royal College of Art, LondonEdinburgh College of Art
511 Gallery, New York City
I began this project during a period of personal loss; family illness, death and litigation. During this time my family construct had shifted dramatically and consequently links to my own community, the Jewish community of North West London were dissolving; the nostalgia in these images is mine.
The project was a response to a commission from 1000 Words Magazine; to make a piece of work exploring immigration in Europe in the decades post WWII. My research led me to the Bedford Italian community and as an outsider with no links to the Italian community, I emailed a historian called Terri Colpi who had written a book on the Italian Communities of Britain, asking for a contact in Bedford.
Terri wrote back “I am thinking of Giorgio Garofalo who is in his 60s, and was brought from Molise to Bedford as a child. He is very interesting and if able would scoop you up and introduce you to others.”
Soon afterwards I heard from Giorgio;
“…There is so much that can be said about Italians in Bedford. The situation is a little similar to the origin of Jews in the UK. I am personally very hopeful about the future for the Bedford Italians generally. I believe that Bedford Italians have made a useful contribution to society and to the economy locally and in the UK. But even more benefits will be noticed in the future for all concerned. Take the case of people of Jewish origins in the UK. Success in every era of society. From politics to business to arts to science, medicine etc. Would Britain be as great if it wasn't for the Jews' contribution to society?”
I explain all of this to clarify the beginning, my motives. I was drawn to this community; their ideas of family and community to me idealized. I felt nostalgic; homesick even. And to them perhaps my community was also idealized. I was accepted as Jewish more that I would have been had I said I was British. After all we share priorities; food and family. We are both observers rather than participants.