Miriam Reik Photogapher

heath life

Boating-pond

Open spaces in London are thankfully not in short supply, but Hampstead Heath with its rolling hills, meadows, heath land, woods and ponds, and its fantastic location commanding panoramic views over the urban sprawl of the metropolis, must take pride of place. Yes it’s a place of natural beauty but its spirit has always been defined by the people that use it ; Londoners, their children, their dogs and and many a lucky visitor from out of town. What really interests me is this rich cultural life - the wonderful mix between the urban and the rural that so defines this space .

My attachment to the Heath goes back to my childhood when my father brought me here. Although the scenery may have changed and views may have shifted, the atmosphere remains static, fixed in a kind of utopian moment which everyone that visits can access. Each image in this collection is witness to a personal narrative capturing a precious moment of interplay between the individual and the landscape.

I wanted to reproduce varying elements that make Heath Life unique, and so created individual projects over time that produced these photographs. Whether that be at the fairground that still visits three times a year, recalling the nostalgia of Happy Hampstead of the late 19th century, or the very Englishness of the Kenwood concerts, or studying the significance of the memorial benches that so populate the landscape. And of course there are the dogs and their walkers that become more visible during the week when the Heath is quieter. The events enacted here here are very much a London phenomenon- a modern day parable of people at play in their city’s extended back garden.