In Settlements (Spero, 2017) Spero takes pictures of some of Britains more unusual homes. Home made homes. Huts with canvas roofs. Communal areas. Informal insides and outsides. Gardens and vegetable patches. People living in groups and sharing equipment. These are people who have chosen to live outside the mainstream, with a minimal impact on the environment. There will inevitably be conflicts with authority, with planning and with people that simply do not approve of ‘off the grid’ living and self design.
Whatever you think of the chosen lifestyle the images show a thoughtful appreciation of the ethos of the people. Most of the images are from outside , taken, as noted in the OCA manual, with an eye for the privacy of the families but on his blog he also shows the insides of the houses, details of their lives (Returning from the Pub) and group images. It is a holistic look at their lives and makes for fascinating viewing (Spero, s.d.).
Spero has done another series Churches in which he shows images of churches, or rather religious dwellings where unusual settings have been utilised. For instance, the Christ Shalom Bible Centre in what looks like an old garage and the Truth of God Church in an old industrial building.
In both of these series Spero shows how people utilise what they have to allow them to live how they wish, not how the world expects them to live but what works for them. It is an unusual viewpoint and one well worth exploring. Too often we make assumptions about what is right, that is, what we do equals what everyone should also do. Showing alternative ways is a wake up. It undoubtedly helps that the images are fascinating and draw the eye – but that does not override the ethical import of these series. They tell about the people, whether or not the people are present.
Spero (s.d.) Settlements | David Spero. At: http://www.davidspero.co.uk/settlements/ (Accessed 12/08/2020).
Spero, D. (2017) SETTLEMENTS. West Dorset: DAVID SPERO.