Steeped in community spirit that many think doesn’t exist in London, documentary photographer Hannah Maule-Ffinch shares her project Pie and Mash with Hunger TV.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
My career began in graphic design before a trip to South America, and in particular Columbia, inspired me to pursue photography. I then trained as a photojournalist, before moving into editorial; I now work in advertising too. My work has taken me all over the world – from tiny Ugandan villages to photo shoots with international celebrities. Its a very diverse career.
I always work with people and have been lucky enough to travel the world with my job. I’ve exhibited my work in both London and New York. As a portrait and documentary photographer I am inspired by the diversity of global culture- people, lifestyles, music, food, sound, smell anything that hits my senses. I’ve followed many human and cultural issues during my career, including mental health care in Africa, poverty stricken children in Cambodia, the regeneration of Elephant and Castle in London in the UK and most recently in Mexico where I spent two weeks knee deep in Oaxacan rubbish, working with a community of waste pickers. Aside from photography I live in London. On my twitter account I describe myself as an adventure pursuer people lover and humanitarian which is very accurate. I also have a passion for African and South American culture – the food, the music, the art; the imagery I get there is always so powerful.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THIS PROJECT IS ABOUT?
Harrington’s is one of the oldest pie and mash shops in London. Located in the heart of Tooting Broadway and owned by the same family since 1908, it’s long been a hangout and meeting point for the local community, both young and old. Tucked away on Selkirk Road, SW17, its beautiful art deco exterior and green-tiled walls have survived World War II bombs, a rapidly-changing inner city landscape, and a string of national recessions.
Meanwhile, as a rare focal point of South London community spirit (something that politicians and cynical Londoners alike have given up for dead in the capital), Harrington’s remains a thriving business as well as a buzzy meeting spot for several generations of locals. This colourful and intimate photographic essay captures the characters that gather in the shop on a daily basis, the lives of the owners and staff that have made pies their living there for decades, and the warm, friendly vibe that remains strong despite the financial discontent blighting vast areas of modern London life.
WHAT’S YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
To work with the tribal communities, specifically in Papua New Guinea. I am spellbound by the the way people there live their lives. I want to experience and live in the way they do. It’s so far removed from our world here, which makes it so incredibly appealing to someone who likes to document. I want to experience a world that is opposite to my own, live it, try to understand it and bring it back for people to try and understand themselves. I would love to work for the National Geographic, too.
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE, WHO INFLUENCES YOU?
People are my biggest inspiration and admiration. I often feel quite deeply connected to people I photograph and work with and that’s often enough to inspire me. I’ve worked with people who survived war in Sierra Leone and live in conditions I couldn’t survive in, who have a community spirit I envy. I’ve worked with children in shanty towns in Zambia who have no parents and drug addictions and who prostitute themselves, who still believe their lives will change. I’ve photographed girls in Liberia who walk four hours without water just so they can get an education, with families who have been divided by child trafficking in Cambodia who feel life is a gift and they shouldn’t feel sorry for themselves. I have met people in Columbia whose crops had failed and couldn’t feed their families, yet they insisted on sharing every last morsel with me and my team because they had true pride, which I admire incredibly. I admire greatly the team of people who work alongside me, they never fail to teach me something new. I get something special from most people, from strangers through to the people I love and am closest to.
WHAT ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR?
I am hungry to live life to its absolute fullest and to use my photography in a way that can make a small difference. I am hungry to travel and experience different cultures and fulfil my passion for adventure. I’m hungry to photograph as much as I can until the day I can’t hold my camera. I am hungry to better myself as a photographer every day.