1. If you think of strangers as being friends you just haven’t met yet, and can open your mind to the idea of putting trust into someone you have never met, your life could be opened up to a whole host of new opportunities and experiences. These strangers, or new friends, are all a part of the couch surfing phenomenon that is sweeping over the world.  There are currently over six million couch surfers across 100,000 cities in the world; being a part of the community allows participants to have and instant group of friends, local guides and a free place to stay in various places all over the world. 

    In this increasingly consumer driven world, couch surfing is becoming a part of a new ‘sharing economy’ that is developing as a more sustainable way of life. Social collaboration in communities such as couch surfing is enabling connections between strangers, forming relationships, and encouraging sharing of culture and lifestyle, while people also benefit from free lodging. 

    Mary Robinson has been meeting couch surfers for the last eight months, photographically exploring the diverse range of spaces that hosts offer couch surfers from across the world to sleep on. Money never changes hands; hosts offer a space for travellers, expecting nothing in return but respect and a new friendship. Mary’s work visually documents some of the incredible people and places that are a part of the community.

     

  2. With an in-depth photographic body of work, Anders Haugland Pedersen presents his intimate view of the less known Amish Mennonite community in Ireland.

    Anders has for the past 6 months been working on a photo documentary studying the every-day-life of the Amish Mennonite community. The project took him on a spiritual journey exploring the beliefs of the Amish Mennonites, who left their lives in North America to come to Ireland to establish the Christian Fellowship church. 

    The Amish Mennonites are a protestant religious group dating back over 300 years. In the early 15th century, a rebirth of looking more deeply into the Bible spread across Europe and through these close bible studies came a sense of astonishment for the purity of the apostolic church. Despite being tortured, burned and jailed for wanting to reform the state church, groups of sincere Christian came together and by the year 1525, a fellowship of these believers had formed. Today these worshippers and their beliefs are known as Anabaptists. By the year 1536, Menno Simons, a former catholic priest, united with the Anabaptists and as a result of his influential work, this group instead became known as the Mennonites. In later years, a young Mennonite priest – Jakob Amman – made his mark on the belief system when he declared his opinion that the church was departing from biblical teachings and therefore should apply a stricter teaching of the bible. Those who agreed with Amman became known as Amish. Many of the Amish and Mennonites emigrated to America as a result of being persecuted for wanting to reform the state church.

    Today there are over one million Amish with approximately 150.000 of them falling in the category of Amish Mennonites. The term Amish Mennonites simply identifies the church not being exclusively Amish or Mennonite. A few Amish Mennonite families have started to return to Europe and Ireland is among the first countries to now host Amish Mennonites.

    Keep your eyes on Arvor for more soon! 

     

  3. Over the past couple years Aaron has been photographing different elements of alternative living. He has mostly focussed his time around individuals and families located in and around the Falmouth, Cornwall area. However, Aaron’s discovery of alternative living has shifted and he is now concentrating his time on photographing a community by the name of Chyan.  Half of the land here is a designated Traveller’s site and the other half is used to grow organic orchards and vegetables gardens as well as for education and annual events. 

    One of Aaron’s key interests in the documentation of Chyan Farms is not only to show the idealistic and gratifying side of this lifestyle but also to show to the challenges and dedication it takes to live in this way.

    Check out Aaron’s WEBSITE

     

  4. Until the 1990’s, English China Clay industry was second only to the North Sea Oil extraction, and bigger than the mining of tin and copper together.

    Located in Cornwall, UK, the China Clay area is facing a silent transformation that is unsettling for the residents of the area, Annemarie Bala explains. More than 25000 people live here distributed in over 10 distinct villages all neighboring the well-known city of St. Austell.

    Her project portrays the lives of people and the development of their respective communities, who are faced with the uncertainties of a post-industrial era, revealing the impacts of industrial and indiscriminate exploitation of their soil. The short term benefits and economic profit are a trade off for environmental destruction, presenting a global dilemma worth contemplating with reference to our human values.

    This photographic project intends to observe the inherent connection between the people that live in this area and the landscape surrounding it, exploring visible traces of man-made intervention. A historically glorious past in the world industry of the China Clay has shaped the landscape and brought to the area a unique identity; one that is now only filled with sentimentality in the wake of fading economic wealth and security.

    Check out Annemarie’s BLOG

     

  5. Benjamin Rutherford has been following the lives of a group of Zimbabwean Refugees and Asylum Seekers in different areas of the UK for the past 6 months. His work provides an intimate view of what life is really like as an asylum seeker in the UK. He presents individuals who the UKBA system has failed with devastating consequences for them and the Zimbabwean Diaspora community, as well as those whose lives the UKBA has effectively saved. This Documentary captures the daily lives of one of the UK’s Largest Refugee populations, with the unofficial estimate of Zimbabweans living in the UK at around 300,000. The work also brings a critical light to the failings of the UKBA, with some Asylum Seekers being homeless for up to 12 years and most individuals’ asylum cases taking an average of 8 years to process.

    Check out his BLOG

     

  6. Helen Fox practises Crystal Reiki, an alternative therapy, on a patient at the Psychic Fayre in the Primrose hotel, Perranporth, Cornwall.
    President George Trudgeon and his wife Mryna await the congregation atThe Central Spiritualist Church in Falmouth, Cornwall. 26/02/2013.

    We can not see or hold faith, but we know innately that it exists, whether we are religious or not. Historically we have built structures, designed rituals and rendered facts to address that which can not easily be explained. Spiritualism is just one belief structure, unique in that it manifests itself as a religion, philosophy and a science. Spiritualists follow a set of seven fundamental principles. The most honored being a belief in a continued future existence, and that people who have passed on into the spirit-world can and do communicate with us. Far from the commonly held misconception of an occult-like status, spiritualism is an officially recognised religious movement with its own churches and Ministers who possess the same rights and privileges as other religions. Out of this a culture of alternative thinking, living and healing has come to define Spiritualism in the last century. In ‘As Above/Is Below’ Amy-Grace Whalley observes an archaic practice in its new age.


     

  7. Tristan; radical trans man.
    Geraldine; cross-dresser.

    Daisy Atkin has been working on a long term project looking at transgenderism in all its forms, and opinions around the subject. She soon realised just how large and diverse the trans community is and how little understood the various terminologies and groups are. Since spent the last year and a half building links with various trans groups and people, she has formed a base of portraits and stories which not only cover various trans identities but also the struggles and problems, as well as triumphs, that face trans people in modern society. Transgenderism is on the brink of a huge shift, from the smear campaigns and media reveals of the 70’s to recent programmes that are much more sympathetic. The 2004 Gender Recognition act allowed trans people to change their legal gender, and the Trans Media Watch Memorandum of Understanding has reformed transgender representations. Trans people still face much prejudice, aggression and occasionally violence, however, with much higher rates of suicide, homelessness and unemployment within the community.

    Check out Daisy’s BLOG

     

  8. Lily 12 years old has been home educated for the past year due to anxiety, since been taken out of school she has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
    Michael and Anna have been home educated all their lives & have tutors for different subject twice a week. Todays lesson is Spanish, and learning directions.

    Home education is something that is often looked down upon and swept under the carpet. In the current day, however, it is becoming a popular alternative for parents who are not satisfied by the Education their children are receiving from the state, or those who have never considered school for other reasons. The Badman Report, undertaken by Cornwall council in 2009, shows there are over 500 families who are registered and home educating.

    What this project, explored and undertaken by Victoria Mayrick focuses on, is the misinterpretation and the stigma that is associated with Home education, and will therefore in turn educate its audience on educational alternatives. The main critique of Home Education is social neglect; and under this light, Victoria has documented both the isolation of home schooling and the various groups that seek to create a social zone for home-schooled children of various ages and backgrounds.

    Check out Victoria’s BLOG

     

  9. Local farm owner, Helen, tends to the newly born triplets and the ewe in the early hours of the morning.

    ‘Village Life’ is a documentation of everyday living in the Cornish Village of Stithians by Nia Haf Collier. Through looking at regular activity and special events in the village, Nia images aim to provide an insight into what everyday life in a typical British village is all about. With a population steadily growing, the number of inhabitants in Stithians is currently around 2,000. The village sits in the centre of the Redruth, Truro and Falmouth triangle, and with these larger locations close at hand, Stithians is a desirable area to settle in. One of the most attractive prospects of living in Stithians, however, is the vast number of social groups, organisations and services available. With three choirs, a bell ringing group, luncheon club, two churches, playing fields, post office and village hall, amongst many others, there is always plenty to keep everyone and anyone occupied. New families are keen to live in Stithians, with its abundance of kids clubs and highly rated Primary School. Those who have lived there for many years are keen to stay, having become a strong aspect of the closely knitted community. With a mixture of young and old, the erection of new council estate ‘Collins Park’ and the miners old granite cottages, this village is diverse, rich in history and full of life. 

    More quality work from Nia Haf Collier! Check out her BLOG

     

  10. Manshiedh (3 years old) gets into a pyjama shirt for his afternoon nap. Like nursery schools throughout the world, the children at the Malayalam estate are no different.
    Visinanathan, a leaf loader, collects the freshly plucked tea leaves twice a day transporting them to the main estate factory for processing.

    Women’s rights are a contentious issue around the world as they are in India today, where recently the issue has been highlighted.  Alexander Walker documented one of the traditional Indian industries in one of the south-western states.

    The tea industry in India is heavily dominated by a female workforce but in the state of Kerala, which has been vigorously promoting the rights of women for many years, it has led to unexpected problems for the industry.

    For decades the state had its politics rooted in socialism, having become the first state in the world to democratically elect a communist government in 1957.  In relation to its population, this has meant they have reaped huge benefits in terms of welfare, education levels and high quality of life.  For women this has meant the realisation of parity in education and wages.

    However, today’s high levels of education for both men and women, means a mismatch between labour supply and demand.  Young educated women no longer wish to be employed in the physically demanding and lowly paid jobs offered by the tea industry.

    Herein lies the challenge faced by the tea estates in Kerala. The group of women workers currently employed may be the last of their generation from Chundale village to do this work as if these positions cannot be filled from inside the community, the company will be forced to use migrant workers from other states or turn to mechanisation.

    Check out Alex’s WEBSITE