“Nuclear” is the result of a three year long project, portraying families of my middle son’s year group at the local primary school in East Finchley, North London. Primary schools form unique communities around them. Parents are actively involved in their children’s social lives, most turning up at the school twice a day, dropping off their children in the morning and collecting them in the afternoon. Parents and carers see each other day in day out, talk and share, arrange play dates and give out birthday party invitations in the playground. The project began in 2008 when the children were in year 4 and culminated in 2010 as they enter year 6, the final year of their primary school and prepare to move up into the secondary school system; depending on their academic abilities, religious affiliation, geographic location, gender and financial status. For 7 years, the children and their families have been part of the ‘Martin School’ community. A local state-funded primary school situated in a typical North London suburb. The community is diverse and for the children, living and learning and playing at the school, race and social class differences are invisible. This integration is mirrored to a large extent by the parents in their involvement and participation in school life and through the friendships and play-date arrangements made on a daily basis.
At the end of these 7 years, some of the families will continue to actively belong to the Martin School community, having younger siblings still at the school. They will also be developing new relationships through their children’s new acquaintances at their respective secondary schools although parental involvement and participation at secondary school is different.
Having immigrated to the UK in 1992, I always thought of London as a large and impersonal place, a place in which you do not know your neighbours and people are alienated from each other. Coming to live in East Finchley and becoming part of the school community, this impression I had shifted considerably and being part of the school community . In this book, I wanted to record this special time, the people I got to know, my friends and my son’s friends. Photography freezes a moment in time, this is a moment I wish to preserve.