One of my ‘stranger’ on going projects is called ‘Sharps Only’ and is a documentary series investigating social tolerance on the presence of sharps and needle disposal bins in public toilets.
The idea first came about while out ‘taking pictures’ as myself and a friend always used to do. While out I needed the loo and so used the nearest public one, when I walked in I found what could only be described as a mail box on the wall, painted yellow and with the words ‘Sharps Only’ written on it in black letters.
At first this didn’t trigger the project it was only when out photographing again on another occasion when I found one more glaringly obvious. A public toilet block where each cubicle opened out on to the street, the interior was an entirely stainless steel finish with quite literally a hole in the wall with an engraved sign reading ‘Needles’. This was the trigger and I started returning to these locations to photograph them using a medium format roll film camera and hunting for them wherever I went. When I returned to the stainless steel cubicles I chose one at random finding that the particular example had ‘go and die drug taking arseholes’ penned on the wall.
I define the project as an investigation of social tolerance because I feel that it creates elements of discussion and various opinions and feelings in different people. Many peoples instant reaction is that of the individual armed with a permanent market, that the users are drug users. One of the bins I’ve ‘captured’ was informed to me by a diabetic friend who knew where it was to dispose of his needles. From another angle, as a parent, many of the examples have been found next to or near beaches. My children playing on a beach are likely not to be wearing shoes; they need the loo, so you take them. I’d feel far happier my children running in to a room with bare feet if there was somewhere safe for such paraphernalia to be disposed of safely. The ultimate reality is that you will never stop drug use entirely but if we facilitate it’s use we can make the world safer for the innocent individuals stopping them from being caught up in it along the way.