It’s an exciting moment when you launch the new website for a project. This website heralds the beginning of a three year project on Making Suburban Faith funded by a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Connected Communities Programme.
The impetus for the project came from earlier work on Faith in Suburbia. In 2014 we published an article ‘Faith and Suburbia: secularisation, modernity and the changing geographies of religion in London’s suburbs’ critiquing the absence of religion in suburban studies, which emphasised secularisation and homogeneity. We suggested that rediscovery of the creative potential of the suburbs gave little attention to religious creativity. Our examples included both the new modern churches of 1930s London and the creative improvisation of new religious spaces created by migrant faith communities, often through the adaptation of older religious buildings. Some examples of such adaptations were discussed in a public lunch time lecture given by Claire Dwyer at UCL in Febuary 2014 ‘Buddhas of Suburbia: Faith, migration and suburban change in London’
This lecture also drew on a collaborative photography project undertaken by Claire with photographer Liz Hingley in 2012. This project invited senior citizens from six different places of worship in West London to visit and photograph each others places of worship. The resulting photographs were exhibited at UCL in autumn 2012 and at Gunnersbury Park Museum in Spring 2013. For more details of the project see the UCL podcast.
The photos have since been exhibited at some of the participating places of worship including Our Lady and St Joseph’s Church Hanwell, St Thomas Church and at the Ealing Gurdwara, and West London Islamic Centre.
The photography exhibition provided wonderful inspiration and contacts for the new research project and we look forward to sharing our new work here over the next few years.