Joshua T Gibbons: Cockney Stan
Joshua T Gibbons is an English photographer with a keen eye for documenting people. We stumbled upon Joshua's work a number of months ago and to say that we were impressed is an understatement. His work through the medium of documentary portraiture is truly unique and each series he creates ( from the recent sex site, to y sied) is a massive source of inspiration for us here at The Balti Club. A few years ago, Joshua began a series which documents the life of Cockney Stan, a 71 year old retired bachelor from East London. The series is truly special and beautifully photographed. Check out some of our favourite photos from this ongoing series below, along with few questions and answers with the artist.
Words by: Joshua T Gibbons.
Stanley Donald Melvin is a 71 year old retired bachelor, who splits his time between a residence in Finchley, North London and his townhouse on the Costa Blanca. Born in the Cheapside area of East London, within earshot of the Bow Bells, tradition would label Stanley as being a “thorough-bred” Cockney. A community he takes great pride in being a part of.
The Balti Club: At the beginning, what caused the birth of the Cockney Stan series?
Joshua: Initially I was simply keen to learn more about the Cockney community in London and saw Stan as a way in to that culture however, over time I realised I was far more drawn to using the project as a way of understanding this eccentric character I had been spending so much time with. I couldn't really decide how to collate the often random lifestyle imagery and portraiture so thought it might be interesting to simply put it out into the world without the confines of strict narrative - social media was the quickest and simplest way to do that.
I'll admit, I have been surprised at the positive response to the project, especially as I began the Instagram shortly before Brexit. I felt the positive reaction amongst young people would quickly wind down as the collective feeling amongst youth in Britain is that the elder generation were to blame for the result (something I totally agree with!) but that hasn't happened. I think this is partly because there is a youthfulness to Stan that Iv been able to express through the atmosphere of the imagery, especially within the series I shot of him at his home in Spain.
The Balti Club: Once you realised you wanted to start taking photographs of Stanley did you begin immediately or was it a slow process at the start?
Joshua: Stan was naturally apprehensive at first. Cockneys are extremely suspicious of journalists and tend to be quite secretive or at least that is what Stan presented to me as being part of the culture. In time though, Stan realised that the piece was actually far more an artistic endeavour and for a man that has harboured, if not nurtured, an interest in Art his entire life, the project has given him a creative outlet that I feel he enjoys. He is very much the seasoned professional in front of camera nowadays, I take full credit for that!
The Balti Club: How often do you meet up with Stanley with the intention to continue on with the series?
Joshua: When he is in country we tend to shoot at least once a week although we tend to see each other more than that for social purposes as well. Stan has become a huge part of my life since beginning this project and although he is an extremely challenging character at times, I love spending spending time with him. He's also an amazing wingman.
The Balti Club: Did you shoot exclusively with film for the entire project up to now or was it ever digital?
Joshua: So far I have shot the entire series on analog formats simply because that is how I shoot. I'm not anti-digital photography at all, I just have a large amount of film kit at my disposable and much prefer the physical and tangible nature of working with that format. I was also keen to create a sense of nostalgia in some of the imagery, for example when Stan is recalling memories from his childhood and there is no denying that the grain and aesthetic of film photography certainly encourages that atmosphere.
The Balti Club: Do you have any plans to go on another trip with Stanley in the near future? (Anything similar to the Costa Blanca trip)
Joshua: Absolutely, although probably not something quite as static as our stay on the Costa Blanca. We are thinking about a road trip through France and Spain this summer, just got to find a wicked old Rolls Royce first so we can do it in style.