Keeping Metres: How two former Bishop's Stortford High School boys used the limbo of furlough to produce a photography and film exhibition about London in lockdown
When two former Bishop's Stortford High School boys found themselves in the limbo of furlough during the first coronavirus lockdown, they felt they needed something that would give them a purpose and motivation.
Jordan Pollock and Jimmy Brimmacombe, both 27, say they were just a "couple of mates trying to make something happen" – but they could not have imagined where that would lead.
It all began with Jimmy using his exercise allowance time to document London in lockdown through the lens of his camera, during an unprecedented period in our history. And for his lifelong friend Jordan, that was the creative spark for an ambitious project called Keeping Metres.
Jimmy was furloughed from his job as a barman at a pub in Notting Hill in March last year. After having a "bit of fun" during the first week of lockdown he realised he needed some creative outlet to cope with the situation.
He had been playing in bands for years, with much of that time spent gigging around Stortford, and had done some "candid" photography of the bands he was in, but nothing serious.
Come lockdown he bought a camera and, with his bike for transport, set about documenting the underbelly of London and the characters who were left on the bare streets of the city.
Jimmy told the Indie: "I tried to incorporate the stark landscape of the city with whatever people were around."
The results so captivated Jordan that he decided to produce a short film to magnify Jimmy's work, with a book also planned.
The friends first met at Manor Fields Primary in Thorley Park. Jordan admits Jimmy always had the creative spark, while he was the organiser, eventually managing the bands Jimmy played in.
When lockdown kicked in Jordan was working as a boxing promoter. Being furloughed hit him hard as in his job he was in a different city every week.
"One of the first things I did was organise an e-sports boxing tournament, but I thought 'Why not do something that gives me a purpose and some motivation?'," he said.
So the Keeping Metres project was launched. "I basically sold Jimmy my vision," said Jordan, and that was to assemble a crew called the Furlough Collective, who would offer their expertise for free.
The 10-minute film was produced starring Jimmy and documented his quest to provide a record of these "weird" times.
In the film Jimmy talks of the experience of travelling through the city during lockdown. He describes "a crazy energy of uncertainty" and how when everything was closed down it uncovered an often unseen side of the city.
"It was like blowing off the dust and then what's left was the reality of the lives of a lot of people," he said in the film. "It's not pretty – just because it's not pretty it doesn't mean it shouldn't be captured."
He admitted that although he was "out there to experience it and make the most of it" for other people it was a "frightful situation" and was "apocalyptic".
The collective, which also included fellow ex-Stortford High students Charlie Wood as cinematographer and web designer Jack Fenner, needed to raise money to publish a photographic journal of Jimmy's work. A kickstarter appeal raised £6,000, a fact that Jordan found amazing.
It has steered the friends towards new careers, with Jimmy now working towards displaying his work in an exhibition within a year of picking up a camera in earnest.
"I was pursuing music before, but as soon as I picked up a camera I realised it was just me in charge," he said.
And for his mate Jordan the success of his entrepreneurial first venture has been an inspiration for what's possible.
"We loved the idea of creating a book but had no money to do it and never had a strategy," said Jordan, who lives in the Barbican in the City. "Now we're in conversation with hotels and galleries."
* To view the film Keeping Metres and learn more about the project see keepingmetres.com.