For the 2014 edition of Tate Modern and You, photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews has captured some of the many black majority churches that are based in Southwark including Liberty Housein Camberwell. She worked in particular with those that have created new spaces for worship in buildings that were once factories, warehouses and bingo halls. Chloe explored and observed church life, the distinctive type of worship and the architectural spaces that have been reinvented.
In the video below, you can follow Mathews on her journey exploring the juxtaposition between the industrial exterior and the emotionally engaged vibrant community within its walls.
According to recent research conducted by Roehampton University, there are over 240 Black Majority Churches in Southwark – this is arguably the greatest concentration of African Christianity in the world – outside of Africa. More than just places of worship, these spaces are often an anchor to the Southwark community which they serve, offering advice on everything, including health, relationships, law and order. Chloe is interested in how this growing phenomenon can enrich the character of the area.
Chloe’s photography work is varied and diverse – she has captured communities from Uzbek gravediggers on the Caspian coast to Hasidic Jews on holiday in Wales. In 2011 she became the subject of a BBC Radio 4 documentary called Picturing Britain, which followed her long term project on the subculture that surrounds banger racing. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is frequently featured in magazines including the Guardian, the Sunday Times, Le Monde, The New York Times and the Saturday Telegraph.