Identical spaces shaped by residents

Victoria in her flat Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw

A few years ago photographer Victoria Birkinshaw moved into a flat in south-east London as part of a property guardianship scheme, where residents pay below market rates to stay in a vacant building, providing the owner with income and keeping out squatters, but on short-term notice to leave.

While there, she came upon the idea of exploring how the building's temporary residents had each shaped their own space to suit them, photographing the way each one had dressed the identical space.

Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw

"The idea for the project came from me and a neighbour, hanging about in each others flats," says Birkinshaw.

"He looked out of place in mine surrounded by plastic flowers and pink things, I felt an awkward curly haired mess in his black and white angular flat."

Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw

Both shared identical spaces and yet had transformed them to reflect their own taste and something of who they are, despite the fact that as guardians they could be made to leave at any time, with little notice.

"The project became a fun way of making connections with people," says Birkinshaw.

Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw

"I asked Jess in the laundry room, just because she seemed nice.

Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw

"Angela, because I always saw her in her animal slippers in the hallway, who then suggested Reuben, who she had grown up with on a commune.

Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw

"Penelope moved into my old flat - I asked her when I showed her around it, and she introduced me to Jody, who she was already friends with, and so on."

Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw

Birkinshaw has since moved out but remains friends with some of the residents.

Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw
Image copyright Victoria Birkinshaw

You can see more of Victoria Birkinshaw's work on her website.

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