Sam Gregg (b.1990, the UK) spent many years abroad – up to the point he almost forgot what it means to be British. His ongoing project ‘Blighty’ is a search for Gregg’s heritage in the streets of London. The title is a slang term deriving from the Urdu word vilāyatī, meaning ‘foreign’. The term was used since the 1800s in India, indicating an English visitor and throughout time, the word started to refer to the Great Britain in general. However, only during the World War I, ‘blighty’ became widespread.
His series includes portraiture and street photographs with his subjects captured in surprisingly vulnerable moments, while the pie and mash shops and pubs evoke a sense of nostalgia in the viewer. Gregg’s work contains multiple layers where besides his search for the English identity, or what it means to be ‘British’, he also sheds light on the changing nature of the city. In a way, he is hinting on the gradual disappearance of the family-run businesses from London as they are slowly being substituted with large corporations.
‘Blighty’ does not present a clear perspective on the situation. As Gregg states: “This is me, simply trying to find out.”