Miriam Reik Photogapher

lauren & leanne in langley park

I met Lauren & Leanne when they were 6 months old. I had been invited to partake in a community photographic project local to their home in the ex-coal mining area of the North-East, near Durham. One parent families was my subject and Karen their single mum was introduced to me by her sister Marie. I had been spotted looking lost on her housing estate and she had boldly come up to me and asked if I was a social worker ( I obviously looked out of place) and who was I looking for? I explained that I was a photographer from London and that I was looking for subjects for my project. Little did I know then that Marie's curiosity was to lead to an ongoing relationship with the family that lasted over 9 years.  

During my  initial short stay in this close knit and recently devastated (post Thatcher) mining community, I had forged relationships both personal & professional and I was back within 6 months. The twins, their large extended family (grand-dad, aunts, cousins) and neighborhood became the focus for this work here. I was attracted to the energy and intimacy of their world and the differences in lifestyle and cultural values from my own in middle-class, affluent North London and I think they reciprocated this curiosity. This was the not so progressive North-East of the early 90s and who was I to them, this unconventional, independent women from down South? For the twins, way before the cult of celebrity became the prevailing obsession it is today, my camera and constant attention  made them feel special. And in so doing, validated my feelings that they are special anyway in that uncanny sort of way that being twins projects, and also therefore why I wanted to photograph their growing up. They and all the family allowed me to slot into their lives comfortably whenever I visited and so continued this steady if eventually routine relationship until we finally lost touch when the twins were about 10 years old. Now I’d love to know where and how they are. The North-East beckons once more.