RRB Photobooks, April 2021
Softcover, Yellow Card with exposed spine
20 x 24 cm
First Edition of 600 copies
Including 50 Special Edition Copies
Design by Safia Belhaj for IC Visual Lab
Published from work commissioned by the Bristol Photo Festival
First Edition £28 | Special Edition £95
Abandoned shed, Bedminster
Signed and Limited 7x9" Pigment print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper
Hoare’s project documents eleven sites across the city from established allotment sites to community gardens and improvised plots on disused lands. The project was conceived pre- Covid-19 pandemic but its timing, coinciding with increased demand for green spaces for cultivating produce, allowed him to capture the formation and energy of a growing renaissance.
The allotment system recognised today originated in the 19th Century. Land was given to the labouring poor to allow them to grow food at a time of rapid industrialisation with no welfare state in place. Allotments were transformed during the famous ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign during World War II and since then their popularity has wavered. Over time, the stereotype of an allotment goer came to depict a middle-class pastime for retirees. However, in recent years this image of urban land cultivation has evolved as an increasing number of economically and environmentally-conscious young people, families and ethnic minorities are claiming plots. In the process, they are transforming the fertile growing spaces with their own choice of produce and farming methods.
With demand outstripping supply, urban dead spaces have been commandeered and
rejuvenated and their value realised through the process of growing. The allotment has provided the multiple benefits—increasing sustainable local food production whilst simultaneously providing a haven away from home, and an escape, during the current pandemic .
Chris Hoare (1989) was born in Bristol where he currently lives and works. In 2019 he
gained his MA in Photography from University of West of England. His work focuses on the overlooked in society, exploring themes of identity and place, whilst utilising ‘speculative documentary’ to tell visual stories in a loose metaphorical way. His work has been exhibited at National Portrait Gallery, London, Paris Photo and Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol. In 2020 he was a finalist in the Palm* Prize and awarded a GRAIN Covid-19 response bursary. His work has been published in The Guardian, Fisheye, SEASON, HUCK, The Wire, Soccerbible, Les Inrockuptibles, Lufthansa Magazine, Timeout, The Commuter Journal, B24/7 and Bristol Magazine.
Growing Spaces was commissioned by Bristol Photo Festival and the project was exhibited as part of the 2021 edition.