Adam Patterson’s photo-journalism reveals shades of anguish silhouetted with hope, survival in difficult environments and a composed window into the psyche of his subject matter. Whether he’s covering slave labour in Dubai, Swansea’s heroin dependent youth, or the draconian ‘Three Strikes’ laws in California – he delivers us an authentic slice of life as it is. The always beautiful, often dramatic and at times distressing images stem from his personal experiences amongst pressing health & social issues happening around the globe.
Here T-SQUAT reveals the first collection in a brilliant series of photo-essays by Adam: Another Lost Child. A collection of intimate portraits created between 2008 and 2010, displaying the personal development of Vipoh, “a gangbanging 18 year old who knew more about trouble than most” from Brixton, London.
Words by Beck Rocchi and James Watkins.
What is ‘Another Lost Child’ about?
“Essentially it’s a story about growing up, I suppose. Transition and change. When it began back in 2008 it was about gang kids in Brixton, but it quickly became focused on the journey of one young man in particular who called himself “Vipoh”, and his struggle to leave the street life he’d grown up in. I photographed Vipoh [real name Jean Claude] throughout 2008 and 2009, and then rejoined him late last year to highlight how his life had changed. I didn’t want him to only be identified with the original images, when I had seen so much positive change in his life. By that point he’d completed a photo course, and some of his work and writings will be shown alongside my images at the exhibition. As ever the project continues to be a collaboration, and none of this would have been possible without his willingness to allow me deep into his life.”
What are the underlying ideals of your work and how does it feel to so intimately document peoples lives?
“I am a pretty opinionated guy, I have a lot of problems with how the West is run, which is probably why all of my personal work is focused here, as opposed to in some foreign land. I think about my work all the time, about the people involved, about whether I am doing their time justice. You see, I have no real right to go into peoples lives – it is a privilege that they allow me, and with this comes a responsibility to produce something of worth, and I often think of this.”
“I’ve been quite lucky in some respects in that I have done work in places deemed dangerous and unattractive and been unharmed. But the fact remains that the people I work with are human beings, and if you treat them as such you will often be accepted or at least tolerated. I have also been very careful in how I work, not taking stupid risks and by always being open and honest about what I am doing. I often work collaboratively with people so they feel involved, and to insure they gain something from the resulting work.”
Tell us about a person who you have met through your work that will never leave your memories.
“It is a long list. There was a young guy I met in Vancouver in 2007 who was on crack and meth, he was the same age as me but looked much older. His name was Blackie and I often wonder what he is doing. The other person is Jean-Claude Dagrou, or Vipoh who is the main character in my ongoing project Another Lost Child. I met him on the streets in London as a gangbanging 18 year old who knew more about trouble than most. In the three years since, the project has progressed, he takes photos now too and we have given talks and exhibited our work at various galleries and universities throughout Europe. As I write this I am currently with him in the North of England, where he now lives with his girlfriend, awaiting the birth of their first son.”