Chris Hoare documents allotment-goers in lockdown

The photographer’s new book, Growing Spaces, captures gardening enthusiasts and the abundance of nature in both official and improvised plots across Bristol

Despite being in the works before the pandemic, Chris Hoare’s new photo book Growing Spaces takes on a new appeal in light of the past year, which has recalibrated our relationship with the outdoors and seen an uptick in interest in gardening.

The Bristol-born photographer was originally commissioned to create the series by Bristol Photo Festival, and will be exhibiting it at the inaugural edition this summer.

At the heart of Growing Spaces is the breadth of communities and demographics who engage with gardening and tend allotments, from the elderly to children and entire families.

Top: View over Royate Hill Allotments. Above: Members of Patchwork Community Gardening Group, Bedminster. All images © Chris Hoare
Tara gets stuck into gardening at St Paul’s Community Garden, with the help of her three daughters, Ashti, Arianne and Astera

The photographs were taken from April 2020 across eleven sites around the city, including both official allotments and patches of disused land given a new lease of life as gardening plots.

The variety of settings is emphasised in the series, where images of orderly allotments sit in dialogue with photographs of decrepit buildings and cans of lager being chilled in a pond. In its resemblance to litter, the latter image initially seems at odds with the idea of working with nature, yet perhaps best encapsulates the coming together of urbanity and the natural world.

A pack of Budweiser keeps cool in a pond on a hot Saturday afternoon in late spring, Ashley Vale
Winter squashes, Thingwell Park
Lexi shields her eyes during the apple pressing at the Totterdown Community Orchard
Mike Feingold in his greenhouse in early May
Abandoned shed, Bedminster
Abundant crab apples, Ashley Vale

Growing Spaces by Chris Hoare is published by RRB Photobooks and will be on show at Bristol Photo Festival in summer 2021;;