I first saw Williams' work in the Art of Dissent book (bottom image). Only one image was published and I wanted to know more about the artist, I was quite intrigued by it. I knew that very awkward corridor outside the Olympic village she photographed. It would take someone special to capture that oddity. That small piece of land showed the past, the rejected. This portion represented like the ultimate and highly concentrated amount of energy that was about to be obliterated by the new landscape. I took few shots myself of this vanishing entity but Henrietta managed to capture it in blossom. That open but inverted non-space was the perfect symbol of what the rejuvenation intended to make disappear, the commonly called wasteland. Henrietta reveals its hidden beauty where the anarchy and the organic make suddenly more sense than the modern background arising. That one shot stayed in the back of my mind and I wanted to see more. Eventually we met and I then discovered a broader spectrum that convinced me that Henrietta was someone really talented and dedicated.
It appears then that her work is, again, as most of us in this collective, very rich, versatile and local. That last point is highly relevant as it makes us as much artists as responsible citizens by being involved in our communities. This is the desire to transmit a true information to a wider audience often put aside from the mass medias. Williams' work deals as much with the landscape as with its inhabitants. She not only frames the views independently but also includes its protagonist in a reflective mood. As when she concentrates on the land only she succeeds in capturing an almost human quality to it that I have rarely experienced. As if visages unconsciously emerge from the surface of the concrete. The emotion produced by the colours are quite warm and welcoming. Her landscapes in re-invention do not intend to collide with the politics by straight opposition but they emphasize on the true inner beauty and peculiar identity associated with the East transformed. Like an archeologist she digs and presents an emotional state of the land that is a result of the various communities throughout its original past.
As when she portrays locals, despite presenting them in a classic fashion, they all show a personal dignity and reflection on the landscape. They question their own background, the actuality of the situation they are in in order to manage their near move. That is this dialogue between land and people that makes Williams' work so powerful and intelligent. The complexity and inter-relation of those two parts are the best described in her profound and caring investigations.
Henrietta Williams is a photographer and writer based in London. Her work has been widely exhibited and published in the UK and been featured in the Guardian, the Evening Standard, Open Democracy, on the BBC and in the architectural press. Her work about security in the UK led her to a project documenting evictions and exclusions in East London in preparation for the Olympic Games.
Henrietta is continuing this work and is now working closely with the Carpenter's Against Regeneration Plan, a group of residents who are contesting the demolition of the Carpenter's Estate in Stratford, East London.
You can see more of her works by clicking on her link above.