Mrs LittleÕs home communion

Mrs Little’s Home Communion

At the moment Liverpool is hosting its first International Photography Festival, Look 11.  I’ve been to see one of the exhibitions, so small it doesn’t even figure in the Festival handbook.  The Victoria Gallery is hosting a small selection of rich and wonderful images from Under Gods – Stories from Soho Road, a portfolio of work by Liz Hingley.

Hingley grew up as the daughter of two Anglican priests in Birmingham, and became fascinated by the multi-faith community where she was brought up – one where people from over 90 different nationalities lived. Her photographs document and celebrate the rich diversity of religions that coexist in Soho Road, Birmingham, and vividly communicate the reality and intensity of their different lifestyles.

Hingley lived with and visited the different religious communities, including Thai, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese Buddhists, Rastafarians, the Jesus Army evangelical Christians, Sikhs, Catholic nuns and Hare Krishnas.  The photos on display include ‘Mrs Little’s Home Communion’ (above) and ‘Polish Catholic carol singers’ (below).

Liz Hingley, Polish Catholic carol singers

Polish Catholic carol singers

Liz Hingley explains:

Between 2007–2009, I explored the two-mile stretch of Soho Road in Birmingham, to document and celebrate the rich diversity of religions that co-exist there, and the reality and intensity of their different lifestyles…. Religion has become the defining factor, rather than culture or race.  Here over thirty religious buildings act as centres for many different religious denominations and serve ethnic groups who have come from all over the world.  Under Gods investigates the growth of urban multi-faith communities and the complex issues involved, such as immigration, secularism and religious revival.

Mrs Adina ClarkeÕs church hats

Mrs Adina Clarke’s church hats

The lively bus journeys along Soho Road on a Sunday were always insightful. They took Christian individuals to church congregations meeting in a tent in the local park or a school gym hall. Converted Iranian Jesus Army members in multi-coloured camouflage print outfits could be found sitting next to Jamaican-born ladies boasting decorative hats [above]. I would hear Muslim girls sitting at the back speaking loudly about the latest fashions of the veil, whilst I chatted with Hare Krishna devotees on their way to central Birmingham to distribute books.

This work is a result of my own journey along Soho Road. I investigated what the people on the street believe their religion to be rather than what is prescribed by religious leaders or by the texts. For I see that faiths are interpreted differently depending on time, place and person.

At a time when religion can breed unnecessary fear and prejudice through misunderstanding, with my photographs I hope to reveal what it can bring to everyday inner-city life.

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