By Bob Lepper and Photos by Red Rolled and Seen members
I met up recently with Bella from the new group Red Rolled and Seen, who founded this exciting community photography collective in Peckham just over a year ago.
My first question was about the group’s name.
She said it comes from the 1997 instrumental track by Finley Quaye whose name is an interpretation of the pan-African and Rastafarian flag Red Gold and Green. When she first heard the track, and saw the title, she immediately connected with it and knew it had to be the name for the group because of its associations with aspects of her own heritage and the idea of unifying people through a shared interest. To her the title took on a new meaning for the group in terms of her hope to build a community and unify a diversity of people through photography.
Bella’s background is in participatory photography.
She teaches participatory photography for the charity PhotoVoice and works in arts community engagement with the London College of Communication. Her passion is for using photography to bring people together to represent themselves and their communities. Red Rolled and Seen runs its activities from the community space on Level 5, Peckham Levels, who have provided space, support and helped them build a local community. It holds monthly meetings which include talks, exhibitions, social events and photo walks. Photographic guidance and support is available to participants though it should be stressed it is not offering a photography course. People need to bring their own camera or mobile phone to use. Those who attend are a good mix of experienced and inexperienced photographers. The group provides a warm and inclusive space for all regardless of your level of ability. Average attendance is between 8 and 12 people and meetings are held either in the evening or weekend mornings. Most people are from Peckham but some come from all over London to meet like-minded people. The mix of the group is diverse as is the age range - between 11 and 60!
This year’s highlight
The year’s highlight was participation in the Peckham Festival where photos from 11 collective photographers were exhibited to celebrate all the work produced by participants of the group past and present over the past year. There was also a pop up portrait studio; overall it was a success because they engaged with lots of local people who had never heard of them before.
I asked Bella what kind of photos people enjoyed taking, she said photos of local businesses and traders were popular as were photos of local people and the streets, transport and nature were popular too (for example visits have taken place to Burgess Park).
Bella is very keen that outreach is made to all sections of the community because the group is about nurturing wellbeing collectively as much as it’s about creating and sharing photography.
To find out more about this exciting and innovative group contact Bella: