The neighborhood of Brent and the human heart feature equally in Revival: London, a collection of British photographer Roy Mehta’s images spanning the years of 1989 to 1993.
The rich diversity of this community, located in northwest London, is apparent even to those who don’t know that Brent comprises the most substantial Irish population in Europe outside of Ireland, the largest Hindu temple in the world outside of India, and long-established Afro-Caribbean and Asian populations. A single photo of brown Brits in a barbershop speaks volumes about the multitudes contained in this borough.
Then there are those matters of the heart. Mehta, writes the novelist Caryl Phillips in the introduction to the book, gets at “the great universal subject—what the writer William Faulkner called ‘the human heart in conflict with itself.’”
The result is a collection of photographs that perform a delicate dance between past and present, nostalgia and grief, change and sameness, otherness and assimilation. Most of all, they evoke “an understanding of what is shared within a community,” writes Mark Sealy, principal fellow for decolonizing photography at the University of Arts London and author of the book’s foreword. To this end, Mehta dedicated Revival to the people of Brent, and copies have been distributed to schools and libraries across the borough. —Julia Vitale