VIVI, three years old. "My favourite food is alien food. I like to be loud every day."
"Perhaps you think you have a typical, ordinary life. Most of us do. But read even a tenth of the 100 stories that are chattering and rustling away inside here, and you will grasp that there is no such thing."
Portrait photographer Jenny Lewis has lived in Hackney for 25 years, and spent the last three photographing locals.
JACK, seven years old. "People are always stereotypical to me. Just because I’m a boy they say you can’t like pink, but I love pink. One of the first times I wore a skirt, my mum bought me a tutu. I looked in the mirror and I loved it. It makes me feel happy when I’m glamorous."
Her ambitious project led Lewis to capturing 100 people in 100 photos, covering every age from birth to a century old; the resulting book is
One Hundred Years.
IRIS, 20 years old. "I’m living at home with my mum and my little brother and I love it. I absolutely love it, even though I’m getting to that age when I should move out. Mum is thinking of moving back to Brazil for good so I’m probably going to end up here alone, which is just way worse than me moving out as she’s going to be so far away. I wish I was younger to be honest, so I didn’t have to rush to move out and do certain things."
The intimate photo essay is accompanied by revealing — often surprising — quotes from each of the subjects, from thee-year-old Viv (who likes to be loud every day), to 100-year-old Renee, who was married to a gangster.
We've picked 10 images from the book for you to enjoy here.
JOSH, 25 years old. "I talk very slowly. I go over everything I’m going to say in my head, like a script, checking it’s safe. I’ve always thought that’s just the way I am, but recently I discovered it’s a common trait among survivors of childhood abuse. Everyone is shaped by their experiences, whether it’s trauma or privilege. We all have a choice about how we respond to whatever happened to us."
KING, 38 years old. "I was arrested for doing a graffiti mission the day before my wedding – I made it out a few hours before the ceremony – but when my first child was born, that was it. I promised my wife I was done. There are four kids now looking up to me. It’s what I signed up for. They need me and I’m hungry for it. Can you imagine the amount of times I hear 'Daddy' each day? This is my life and I love it."
ANKA, 42 years old. "I had anorexia, bulimia and everything in between. To me, it felt like an addiction, like being an alcoholic. It’s a distraction from life. I don’t see my traumas as doom and gloom, but as positive things – they’re my chapters, you know? My family is my close group of friends, and my partner. We’re solid: both very independ- ent, free souls, but together. I call it 'together alone' – and that’s where I’m most comfortable."
CLOUD, 76 years old. "In the late 1980s, I was diagnosed HIV positive. I decided to start a theatre company comprised entirely of others with the condition. We became a great success. I witnessed the transformation of frightened individuals, some terrorised by public ignorance, into confident performers. It’s encouraged me to help others not give up hope."
SHERLOCK, 80 years old. "I always wore my own clothes that I made. When I arrived here in my 20s, I had a jacket like Liberace with black and silver thread in it. I had a checked shirt, black trousers with white stitching down the sides, moccasins that were off-white, and lime green socks. When I see my boys in football shirts and tracksuit bottoms made of the nastiest fabric, I think to myself, they should be arrested walking around in those clothes. I wear better things to clean my car... when I had a car."
HYACINTH, 88 years old. "I used to love dancing. I used to go to six dances in one night and then not get up till three on a Sunday. Then I reached an age where I say, this not for me. Take it easy."
RENEE, 100 years old. "I’ve got a past alright. I married a gangster, he thought he was Humphrey Bogart. I was 21 at the time, in too deep to get out. He went to prison for 10 years the day after my son was born. My boyfriend now is 28 years younger than me. I became frail six or seven years ago and Terry said to me, 'I will never leave you. I’ll always make sure you’re alright.' We’ve never lived together, but every night he rings and says I love you."
One Hundred Years by Jenny Lewis, published by Hoxton Mini Press, RRP £17.95
Last Updated 27 April 2021