Friday, 17 August 2012

The World in London

World in London, Olympics project installation, Victoria Park, London 2012 © Caroline Malloy


Commissions come in various forms of course, but portrait commissions at least usually come with the name (or names) of the sitter attached.  A commission from The Photographer’s Gallery in London arrived in the studio last year with only one criteria attached: your chosen sitter must live in London, but have been born in one of the countries which qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

World in London, Olympics project installation, Victoria Park, London 2012 © Caroline Malloy

The World in London was conceived by The Photographers’ Gallery in London of as a major public-art project. The Photographers’ Gallery team set out to commission 204 photographic portraits of 204 Londoners, each originating from one of the nations competing at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The resulting works were intended to be displayed in site-specific venues across the city and in doing so, celebrate the multi-cultural nature of the capital.

Vanuatu, Kiribati, Benin. San Marino, Montenegro, Benin. Aruba and Swaziland. Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Guam, Nauru and Andorra.

World in London, Olympics project installation, Victoria Park, London 2012 © Caroline Malloy


A list of the countries remaining to be photographed for the project came through by email. A quick check on Google Stats provided an analysis of who – according to the census - lived where in which area of London. The statistics graphics cannot, of course, make visible the rich patterns of migration that have helped make London what it is today (it was the photographer’s job to do this).
Communities from ever corner of the globe have populated different parts of London - and grown and flourished to varying degrees - since the beginning of the census. The project hoped to catch all of these communities.

World in London, Olympics project installation, Victoria Park, London 2012 © Caroline Malloy

My own personal search for a subject ended happily. I was fortunate enough to meet and photograph Becky Toma, a 12 year-old of born in Romania and now living in Bromley, a suburb of South London. She loved Ballroom dancing and was photographed in her local dance school, set within in a modest, well-used community centre in the south of London.

World in London, Olympics project installation, Victoria Park, London 2012 © Caroline Malloy


For me it was a fitting end to this project – the research ended not in a spectacular setting in the city but in a local community hall, where the residents themselves provided the spectacle.

Rebecca Toma, London 2012 © Wendy McMurdo


Wendy McMurdo

In addition to the outdoor exhibition, The World in London images will be presented on the dedicated website offering access to the personal stories behind each portrait. at http://theworldinlondon.org.uk/

Exhibition Dates: The World in London
Victoria Park: 27 July - 12 August 2012
Park House: 27 July - 30 August 2012
Venues: Victoria Park, E3; Park House, 453 - 497 Oxford Street, London


Many thanks to Stefanie Braun, Senior Curator, The Photographers’ Gallery, London and to Caroline Malloy for the installation shots of The World in London project.

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