Olympics coverage has (already) hit saturation point and we’re bored of seeing super-serious athletes with their game face on. That’s why the Twelfth Man Project is so refreshing: photos of everyday Londoners in their best sporting gear, beautifully set against the hustle and bustle of the city. We interview Matt Cottis about his collaboration with Dylan Collard.
How did you and Dylan come up with this idea?
I was cycling through Kennington and rode past a bumpy old cricket ground surrounded by huge council blocks. In the centre was a cricket match played by what turned out to be the only team in Lambeth playing in their full white. The image created such a contrast that you only seem to get in london – I then approached Dylan with the concept and so we decided to take it on as a personal project.
How would you describe Twelfth Man Project to a newcomer?
A photography project about London’s diverse communities. Many of the shots have been taken on a 1920s Gandolfi field camera, which was a challenge but the level of detail on the images makes it all worthwhile.
Why the Twelfth Man Project as a name?
It’s the idea that being inspired by your surroundings and communities can act as an extra player.
Are you guys especially sporty yourselves?
I used to play a lot of football when younger, now due to creaky limbs I like to cycle and swim when I can. Dylan has a majestic past in table tennis and long distance running.
What was the most interesting / unusual sport team you photographed?
Everyone has been great but I think going to Sport For Social Change Network in Lambeth has been great – they’re doing great things with the local community through sport and the shots of Rebecca and Sterling (above) was so much fun to take.
How did you find these sports teams?
Word of mouth or out and about in town.
How did you and Dylan collaborate on the project together?
Dylan is such a great photographer and I knew he’d be interested in collaborating to create an interesting project. It’s not about seeking out the cool, just about everyday people from all walks of life with a common theme: sport.
What’s your personal background in photography and art?
Dylan is a successful photographer and I run Iya Studio with my partner Fleur, who has also been involved in the project. We’ve just worked closely together on all aspects of the project.
Do you have a personal favourite out of your images?
Matt Williams, pitcher at the Barbican or Jordan leaning on his bat at Kennington.
How do you feel about the Olympics – good thing or bad thing for London?
Good, wish I had some tickets though! Am hoping when all finished that we can all really make use of the spaces – that Velodrome just has to be conquered!
The Twelfth Man Project is on display at Exposure Gallery till 31 August, 22-23 Little Portland St, London W1W 8BU. To participate in the project, contact Matt at matt(at)iyastudio(dot)co(dot)uk.
Words: Zing Tsjeng