Hope, Despair and Miracles

(2019 - Present)

Finding a sense of belonging away from the homeland may seem endless. There are nofast-tracks, no shortcuts. Feeling rooted to the unfamiliar takes time, sometimes it never occurs, and recurring episodes of homesickness become the habitual.

For a long time, I yearned to get back to the origin. To finally explore that place far away so close where my eyes saw the light for the first time. I hoped that doing so would allow me to find out if it was there, here, I finally belonged. Photography would come with me to record and help me understand the longest journey yet.

Thirteen years ago, I packed up and left my home country to cross the ocean in search for my British identity, my somewhat unfamiliar root, carrying within my baggage a romanticised idea of the so called “developed world”.

The multiracial neighbourhoods I have lived in since moving to Manchester, my birthplace, have made me realise that this island is a rich mix of diverse worlds that cohabit and collide. Where I live now, is where the journey took me several years after my arrival. Without looking for it, life found for me its closest version of Mexico, my motherland.

For the past nine years I have settled in Longsight, a densely populated multicultural working-class neighbourhood in Southeast Manchester with one ofthe largest Pakistani communities established here since the 1960s.

Unexpectedly the area revealed to me numerous heart-warming similarities with Mexico. Food ingredients such as chillies, coriander, lime and mangoes are effective healers of homesickness (or triggers of it) while the significance of family celebrations inevitably recalls aspects of much missed Mexican traditions.

But sadly, some of Longsight’s prevailing issues often connected to antisocial behaviour, poor housing, and those environmentally related, have negatively impacted the shaping of its reputation and consequently, its community.  

These other parallelisms reminiscent of a world I am too familiar with, are the very ones that make one despair and at the same time, miraculously drive people to take action. I have discovered that behind Longsight’s intricate surface exists an array of unseen contributors to positive change who remind us that a book should never be judged by its cover.

In my urgency as a photographer to find hope amid the chaos and a sense of belonging, Hope, Despair and Miracles is a work-in-progress that emerges in 2019.

Rather than concentrating entirely on the evident flaws of Longsight’s fabric, the series offers an insider’s viewpoint of its identities and complexities highlighting the individuals and grass-roots organisations making a difference from within.

In a time of acute crisis and uncertainty, Hope, Despair and Miracles calls urgently to focus our attention on the meaningful things we notice around us.

If you would like to take part please view my 'Call for Participants' here and email me at longsightshortsight@gmail.com.



All images © 2009 - 2022  Roxana Allison
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