Covid Tales From Tom’s Bench

A photography exhibition by Jim Grover
30 September – 31 December, 2020

Each day in August this year, award-winning local photographer Jim Grover photographed someone or a group of people sitting on a bench on Clapham Common and asked them how Covid had affected their lives.

The bench was erected in memory of “Honest Tom”, a local institution who ran a snack wagon for 30 years, but sadly passed away last year. His bench has a vase, which Nadine, who worked in Honest Tom’s for 27 years, fills with fresh flowers each week.

The process was deliberately random; whoever sat down became Jim’s subject for the day.

Sitters came from all walks of life: a bricklayer, a company director, students, motor-bikers, a dog-walker, an NHS speech therapist, an ex-army anti-tank gunner, government workers, a black cabbie, an analyst programmer, and a great-granny, amongst many others.  

And their stories and experiences are similarly varied.

The result is a unique and powerful photo-story which brings to life the wide range of stories and experiences that we read and hear about every day.

The exhibition comprises 28 sequential photographs, with accompanying captions and stories.

Jim Grover said: “Everyone who sat on Tom’s bench has been through what we’ve all encountered over the past few months.

“But the impact on individual lives has been so varied, from surprisingly rewarding to absolutely harrowing, and everything in between.

“Yvonne’s moving story, on the last day of my month-long project, 31 August, put all the others into context; hers was life-changing.”

Covid Tales from Tom’s Bench runs from 30 September to 31 December in the Omnibus Theatre Café/Bar, 1 Clapham Common Northside SW4 0QW. 

Opening times
Thursday 9am to 8pm
Friday and Saturday 9am to midnight
Sunday 10am to 4.30pm

Admission is free

Viewing will be subject to safe social distancing guidelines. The exhibition will also be available to view online from 30 September at Jim Grover’s website.

Jim Grover lives locally and teaches documentary photography at the Leica Akademie UK.

In 2018, his solo exhibition in the Oxo Gallery on London’s South Bank, ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’, was one of the year’s must-see shows and was enjoyed by well over 20,000 visitors.

He is currently working on various photo-stories in South London, and his next major exhibition will be unveiled in 2021.