Coming together in the seemingly endless summer of 2018, Max Miechowski’s series Burgess Park documents some of the hottest months on record in a tribute to the power of communities – especially those that are multicultural.
Miechowski began photographing the park, having moved to southeast London a year prior, as means of exploring his new neighbourhood. It was upon taking two photographs in particular, however, that the photographer saw an opportunity to build a body of work. One captured a young girl named Shantelle, the other, groups of friends and family gathered around BBQs, sun drenching both scenes. The diptych, filled with optimism, represents the park’s community, but also something much bigger: togetherness.
In the current political climate, the notion of community feels increasingly alien to many. Where the powers at be might subterfuge an attitude of “us” and “them”, Burgess Park depicts a rich community, thriving because of its differences, not in spite of them.
The series is filled with moments that prove the fact, assimilating intimate portraits and vistas of sun-beaten grass, the long shadows of a summer’s evening stretching across Miechowski’s compositions. As a practitioner, Miechowski’s ability to capture the essence of a sitter is thanks to his process, one that sees him getting to know his subjects. It’s a method which only furthers the series’ sentiment, Miechowski’s camera allowing him to form bonds with strangers.
As much as those who Miechowski chooses to document help the series come alive, so does his use of light. Couples laugh, friends dance together and parents tend BBQs while youngsters run around the adjacent football pitches, all awash with an orange glow that renders his subjects in a perpetual summer where the sun never seems to set.
While Burgess Park is a portrait of one community, it, in turn, communicates something much more universal. Not only does it relay the importance of community, wherever you are, but it advocates for diversity and multiculturalism within those communities. The virtue of the park lies in the people who visit it. It is a space that facilitates the coming together of ideas, cultures, and beliefs; it allows people to feel part of something and to belong somewhere. Although quiet, Miechowski’s series is a subtle backlash to the increasingly polarising political rhetoric surrounding national identity – ideals which would see communities such as these changed forever.