Outsiders in London: Are you one, too?

The term ‘outsiders’ often has negative connotations: these are the people who are regarded as ‘them’ in contrast to ‘us’, the arrivals from distant provinces or foreign lands, those not quite belonging, those not exactly fitting in, those not conforming. Of course, there is another side to this coin: there are those who stand out quite deliberately, who choose to go against the grain, the ones who challenge established social, cultural or religious norms, who question the policies and orthodoxies broadly accepted by those of us who are of the mainstream, who are ‘inside the tent’. Outsiders in London, an artistic socio-political project exhibited in central London in Spring 2015, aims to reveal through fine photographic portraits and often touching, deeply personal life stories something of the lives of 41 individuals, who perceive (or have perceived) themselves as ‘outsiders’ in one way or another, and to celebrate both that they have survived and what they have achieved. It is also to be hoped that every one of us will recognise in some of these images, and life stories, a little bit (perhaps a lot) of ourselves or of someone close to us. They might be Londoners but the topics covered are universal. The Photographer, Milan Svanderlik, is a veteran observer of the extraordinary diversity and beauty of nature, people and life in general and his previous project, 100 Faces of London, was exhibited in London in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics. Milan has also conducted and transcribed all the interviews with his sitters. Gerald Stuart Burnett was born to émigré Scottish parents in a small Cheshire market town. Graduating from the University of Stirling, he went on to the University of Nottingham before pursuing a long career in the Education Service. Gerald’s project role has been primarily as editor, painstakingly reworking the text of each ‘life story’ into its current form.

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