As a part of our assessment we have been asked to produce a body of work as part of a collaborative research project. Originally my plan was to get involved in a local project at Peg2 in Mumbles, a small Non-Profit café that hosted a ‘Syrian Night’ every month in the format of a pop-up kitchen. This format sounded perfect as it allowed refugees from war-torn Syria to cook for locals of Swansea in order to bring them a bit closer to their food and culture. Unfortunately, Peg2 was only a short-term project run by Red Café (another community project) and closed down mid November.
Regardless of having lost the opportunity to share such a culturally rich experience, I wanted to keep focused on different acts of human kindness and noticed how I was being bombarded with requests to donate to this, or that charity. Mo-vember, Children in need etc., though they seem quite tedious en masse, I hadn’t experienced the vast celebration of giving (to charity) when I was growing up in Germany. It was with this thought that I decided to concentrate on some of the few individuals that I know who dedicate a lot of their time to a good cause and manage to raise large sums of money for a charity of their choice.
I have different individuals in mind, one of them being a potential subject for a previous project as well as being a Mumbles local celebrity, Margaret Thrush. Margaret is known around Mumbles for her unique appearance (Mexican Sombrero and bright green shirt & shorts as support for her charity of choice, MacMillan Cancer Charity). Over her career as a charity worker, Margaret has managed to collect close to £2million for her charity. I know Margaret from my position as a Restaurant Manager at the Mermaid Café, Bar & Restaurant over the course of three years from 2015 until present. Margaret is considered a bit of a Wild Card by most who see her for the first time (myself included). But once you hear her story you come to appreciate the tremendous effort she has made over the course of a few years. Margaret carries a bucket of change along the popular Mumbles Mile and stops off in every Pub/Restaurant that will allow her inside (many don’t allow her to collect money in their establishments as she can be quite blunt at times).
Though I would probably be able to focus this exhibition on Margaret alone, I would like to include more casual participants, including my colleague and good friend Stewart Montgomery, who runs multiple marathons every year to raise money for a variety of charities and will not only be running the London Marathon in 2019 in the name of Maggie’s Cancer Charity, but also running a marathon along the Great Wall of China to mark his 40th Birthday.
While more subjects may be added to the project, my main goal would be to have individual portraits taken of both Margaret and Stewart in the comfort of their homes, perhaps preparing for a long run or a long night of raising money. I would also like to display images of them in their ‘element’ for example, perhaps a shot of Stewart running along the Mumbles promenade wearing a T-Shirt in solidarity with his charity of choice or Margaret in a busy Pub, interacting with would-be donators.
The aim of this exhibition will be to display the charitable nature of the people of Swansea and the extent of their efforts to raise money and awareness for good causes. An additional aspect of the exhibition would be the possibility of selling the images displayed and to donate any proceeds to a local charity. From having conversations with the subjects of my project, many people have had saddening experiences in the past, either facing difficulties in their personal lives, involving their relatives or close friends. When I asked Stewart why he competes so often and what drives him, he told me that his brother had committed suicide a decade ago back home in Ireland. He started his journey along the road of endurance training as a part of the Cycle Against Suicide foundation, raising money for assistance in suicide prevention, a cause that still takes him to Ireland every year. However, there isn’t a month that goes by where Stewart doesn’t take part in some kind of charity event, as he is keen to sign up to any local 5k, 10k, half-marathon or full marathon runs in the name of a good cause.
The chosen location for this exhibition would be the Mermaid Café, Bar & Restaurant at SA3 4EE, 686 Mumbles Road. The Mermaid is a family friendly restaurant, currently under lease by Simon Paine (also an art and crafts enthusiast) which already hosts a small gallery of prints and paintings from a number of local artists/photographers and has become a hub for fundraisers hosted by establishments such as Maggie’s, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie – Care and support through terminal illness and many others. As I am very good friends with the owners of this establishment, I would be able to use their venue as a temporary host for this exhibition against no further cost or commission, however, any food or beverages consumed by visitors of the exhibition would have to be purchased on the premises at the prices dictated by the establishment. The images will be displayed throughout the restaurant among the regular customers whom will, I am sure, be familiar with the subject matter. Furthermore if I were to plan an ‘opening night’ as a more formal introduction to the exhibition, a certain food & drink package may be arranged for around £250, including a selection of wines, a buffet and a private section of the restaurant, suitable for approximately 50 persons.
Cycle Against Suicide
Macmillan Cancer Support
Marie Curie – Care and support through terminal illness
The Mermaid Café, Bar & Restaurant