Open People : Open Spaces is an Arts Council funded multi-site photographic exhibition by Jean Fraser with the participation of Whitstable residents, their friends, family and colleagues, celebrating a community's commitment to non-violence, safety and solidarity.
In 2012 a violent attack took place on two local men – Norman Maciver and Sidonio Givandas – in Nelson Road, Whitstable. A community photocall in response to this incident attracted over eighty Whitstable people who wished to assert their commitment to living in a safe, supportive and welcoming environment, free of hate crime.
Taking the opportunity to expand on this support and the support of others unable to attend on that occasion, Fraser, herself a Nelson Road resident, asked several of the people who attended the photocall to invite further like-minded friends, family and colleagues to form groups to be photographed in different locations around Whitstable’s public space to symbolically claim them as safe and welcoming for all. Altogether 173 local people and sixteen households took part in the project which demonstrated the importance they place on living in a safe, caring and supportive environment. The photos reflect the diversity of a community that has used a negative incident to build stronger local links, and the power of art to intervene in such incidents.
The resulting work formed a trail with large scale illuminated images of the group portraits in the windows of sixteen Island Wall and Nelson Road households, thus generating much debate between passers-by and residents. The photographs were also on display in three Whitstable venues: The Old Neptune public house, Windy Corner Café and The View, a window gallery on Oxford Street, these venues being sited along the route taken by the two men who were attacked.
The exhibition is available for display in galleries, community centres, libraries and other venues, either as a mounted wall piece or as light boxes which can be shown indoors in windows or on venue walls.