For over a decade, Simon Roberts (@simoncroberts) has photographed events and places across Britain that have drawn people together in public, reflecting on the nature of our shared histories and communal experiences. “Merrie Albion - Landscape Studies of a Small Island” brings together iconic images and many previously unpublished photographs, recording social practices and customs linked to the British landscape.
This photo: London Olympics Opening Ceremony, Olympic Stadium, Stratford, London, July 27, 2012
The 2012 London Olympic Games was held on the fifth anniversary of the credit crunch, against the backdrop of continued economic uncertainties, Eurozone turmoil, and predictions of a long, slow financial recovery. The previous seven years of Olympic planning had also seen the end of the debt-fuelled boom, and London 2012 presented an opportunity for the British public to momentarily forget the economic cloud that pervaded.
At the heart of the opening ceremony were thousands of volunteers—men and women, mostly not actors and dancers—who turned up to hours of rehearsal in a car park in Dagenham for no pay. One of the most striking aspects of the 2012 Olympiad was the success of the volunteering program. In addition to the opening ceremony, nearly 70,000 people took part as “game makers,” a high proportion of whom had hailed from Newham, home of the Olympic Park, one of London’s poorest boroughs and also its most ethnically diverse.
All images are © Simon Roberts, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery (@flowersgallery), London and New York.
An exhibition of this work is on view at Flowers Gallery, London E2 from January 19 – 10 March 2018. A new book with the same title has been has been published by Dewi Lewis Publishing to accompany this exhibition.