Chris Hoare photographed the undervalued workforces that kept our society going, not those that were applauded from doorsteps, but those that went unnoticed focusing on the street cleaners. Through the act of photographing, this body of work sets out to shine a rare spotlight on this overlooked workforce, in the hope that those who view the work will adjust the value they place upon these unsung heroes, those that wear PPE and high vis and keep our cities and streets clean during a pandemic.
by Chris Hoare
Artist Statement [read more]
On March 16th this year, the UK was brought to a standstill due to the fast spreading Covid-19 virus. It was at this time in the pandemic that many key occupations were thrust into the spotlight. The often undervalued workforces that keep our society going were applauded from doorsteps and signs were put up in windows to show the British public’s appreciation for these key workers. The NHS staff at the frontline were understandably celebrated loudest for their frontline efforts, and headlines mentioned those working in supermarkets, transport, education, social care and police.
But some remained unnoticed, particularly Britain’s street cleaners who never stopped collecting our rubbish and tidying up our mess, despite the rest of us being told to stay safe at home. This fluorescent clad army helps keep the streets clean day in day out, a job which is often physical, tedious and thankless. Although illuminated by their high visibility clothing, they are often all the more invisible because of it.
It’s easy to overlook these men working around us as we go about our day to day business, but it is clear that the work they do is invaluable. Every urban environment would be a mess without them and so why do we not value them more? Are they respected enough for what they do? Is the importance of their role understood? Arguably not, at least not by those who leave parks and green spaces covered in rubbish after long summer evenings (This outdoor littering was made worse as lockdown began to ease up and people were allowed to socialise outside).
Through the act of photographing, this body of work sets out to shine a rare spotlight on this overlooked workforce, in the hope that those who view the work will adjust the value they place upon these unsung heroes. There is an added emphasis on showing the variety of ways in which the streets are kept clean, through the number of tools needed to tackle the never ending uncleanliness of an urban environment, at a time when cleanliness couldn’t be more pertinent.
Read more about the artist [read more]
Chris Hoare is a photographer based in Bristol. He recently completed an MA in Photography at University West of England. Within his personal work he is interested in areas of society that he feels are overlooked, interested in exploring themes of identity and place. He is increasingly drawn to ‘speculative documentary’, excited by the possibilities that come with telling visual stories in a loose metaphorical way. His work has been published in The Guardian, Fisheye, British Journal of Photography, SEASON, HUCK, The Wire, Soccerbible, Les Inrockuptibles, Lufthansa Magazine, Timeout, The Commuter Journal, B24/7, Bristol Magazine, HUCK, Loupe Magazine and Photoworks and he has won numerous awards including Palm* Photo Prize – Finalist, Source Magazine MA Graduate – Selected (Micheal Mack), Carte Blanche (Paris Photo), Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize – Finalist.
Image Credit: Chris Hoare.