As the 50th anniversary of the founding of CCCS approached, Mahasiddhi, formerly known as Roy Peters, embarked on a journey to photograph some of his contemporaries from his time at the Centre between 1975 and 1979. The result is this series of intimate, reflective yet lighthearted portraits of just some of the movers and shakers who passed through the doors of CCCS.
With support from Roger Shannon throughout, and before his death, Michael Green, the photographer visited his old friends and colleagues in their homes or places of work, met them at cafes, and even outside a football ground. The attitude adopted was a collaborative one where the photographer allowed the sitters to squeeze something of themselves – whatever they wanted to give – through the lens.
However, as much as the portraits celebrate the individuality of each sitter, echoes of the CCCS can be perceived in all. Indeed, Mahasiddhi’s approach to photography is still strongly influenced by his experiences at the Centre. The photographer is as much a ‘product’ of the Centre as are his subjects. Since being ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 2010, when he was given the name Mahasiddhi, the photographer’s approach has been additonally influenced by Buddhist philosophy and practice.
Back in the CCCS forms a fitting tribute to the Centre, which not only impacted on the landscape of contemporary academic thought, but also on the lives and minds on numerous individuals.
Janet Mendelsohn arrived at the CCCS on a scholarship from the United States in 1966. While at the CCCS she was encouraged by Stuart Hall and others to experiment with photography as a tool for academic research. Mendelsohn ended up taking thousands of photographs of life in Birmingham in the late-1960s. One of these images was featured on the 1969 CCCS annual report (pictured), and a selection will be on display at the CCCS50 exhibition at mac birmingham. The exhibition opens to the public on the 10 May.