This is a lengthy series of photographs, 34 of which are here, to which I have added some narrative text. For that reason, they are probably best seen in the order arranged.
They were originally shot for a group exhibition on squatting, under the guidance of Half Moon Photography Workshop (now Camerawork). The project was eventually abandoned - the group was never able to formulate a satisfactory structure that met the varied aspirations and intentions of a disparate bunch of mixed-ability photographers, half of whom were constantly being evicted. Fuller details appeared in an interview that Dave Hoffman and I gave to Ten-8 magazine (issue 7/8 - Restricted Practices).
Whilst it probably seems curious to exhume work that is nearly 14 years old, I feel it has only gained in relevance. The problems of poverty, of homelessness and bad housing - especially among the young - have not at all been solved by government. Rather they are worse, as no visitor to London can avoid seeing - the streets are now paved in crumpled figures in sleeping bags.
This was never a project carried out with professional detachment and sang froid. Nor is it a polemical piece, that would be too simple to carry the reality. In 1974 I moved into one of the houses in Freston Road and became a squatter. I was there 8 years. I am extremely grateful for the experience, of communal living, and of community, which was unique. Moreover, I doubt I would ever have become a professional photographer without the freedom from rent, and the cupboard darkroom no landlord would have permitted. Of course, there was a price - the endless insecurity, the thefts of cameras, the deep erosion of self-respect for being, in society's terms, an outsider and a failure. But what the hell, I learned a lot, and was briefly a Minister of State.
In 1977, Freston Road, a squatted street in Notting Hill Dale, West London, seceded from the United Kingdom, and appealed to the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to prevent evictions by the Greater London Council. The new nation-state called itself Frestonia. Whilst this was a clever publicity-stunt, inspired by the old film \"Passport to Pimlico\", it was also an acclamation of different values.