hartley_280“How much do you think I can get for this?”
“Um, don’t know, twenty quid? Something like that.”
“Only took me twenty minutes to make.”
“Hey, what is it anyway?”
“Well at night when you sleep, usually all your dreams fly out the window, but when you put this up against it your dreams get caught and stay with you.”
“Oh I see, so then we can just sit on the ends of our beds and wait for our dreams to come true.”

Communal living can be beautiful and intimate. It can also be chaotic and difficult. It’s about the right to have a roof over your head and a place to sleep at night, but it’s not secure or permanent. It’s an environment in constant transition with a steady influx of characters drawn to the freedom it can offer. Friends and strangers are united in their desire to find housing on their own terms.

I have been taking pictures since 2006 of a group of squatters living in London. The group became my friends and became a massive part of my life as I spent time living with them. Now in 2011, a new law is trying to be enforced to stop squatters’ rights, and it may be the last year that squatting will remain legal.

Due to bad press, many people, especially in London, see squatters as taking over million pound houses and destroying the properties as they go. While this may be the case for a small percentage, what’s not shown is that many squatters occupy run-down, derelict buildings housing several people from different backgrounds. It’s far from luxurious but they are able to make it livable. What is at stake in light of this new law are the numerous people who will be left homeless, where they will go and what rights they have. 

Will Hartley