Social documentary and Portrait Photographer
based in Melbourne, Australia
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Nicola Dracoulis is a portrait and social documentary photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. A graduate of the London College of Communication’s MA Photojournalism, she has produced work in...
Living in the Middle of Hackney presents the lives of 5 young people in one of London’s most marginalized suburbs. I lived in Hackney for 8 years, during this time I was commissioned to photograph a group of teenagers involved in out of school activities that had been set up for young people ‘at risk of exclusion’. This risk existed for a combination of issues, most young people were from poor families, the area was under serviced for young people, and with nothing better to do, many young people, mostly boys, were getting drawn into gang culture. Violence perpetrated by gang culture was affecting all their families’ lives. People like me, white and middle class, could live without having much idea of what was going on except for the sensational Hackney Gazette headlines reporting the latest in local violence.
In the UK Peace index 2003 – 2012, Hackney was rated 3rd least peaceful suburb in London. It also stated that 70% of Hackney households experience deprivation in education, health, employment, housing, and health.
I spent a summer in 2008 with 7 teenagers, in 2015 I returned to see where they are at now in their 20’s and with Hackney in the midst of rapid gentrification. I was able to catch up with 5 of them.
My work attempts confront negative stereotypes surrounding underprivileged youth. The seemingly fixed co-ordinates of race, class and gender are all subject to pressure. By juxtaposing images of past and present, the project encourages audiences to question assumptions about how the future unfolds for ourselves and others. As some goals move forward, others are re-evaluated.
My image of Fostin was shortlisted for the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 in Australia. It is now hanging with the other 48 finalists at The National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, an exhibition that will tour Australia over the next year.
This image is part of a long term project I'm working on about new stories of the African Disapora in Melbourne, Australia.