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Remembering Alex

The Artist by Alex Davies

Before she died Alex Davies didn't know she had won first prize in the MyLondon Photography Contest.

I only met Alex once, or at least only once that I remember as I must have seen her when she picked up the camera, but she made a lasting impression on me.

Alex had two photos chosen for the MyLondon top 20 photos in July 2014. She had taken camera number 1 of the 100 we handed out at St Paul's Cathedral a few weeks earlier and I later found out that she had arrived early and was first in line.

I arranged to interview her in a cafe in Islington, metres from where she had taken her winning photos. While both were in the top 20 as chosen by the judges, I couldn't tell her that one of them had actually been awarded the top prize. It was of a man dressed in cream. He didn't even have his eyes open but the shot was perfect - the composition and the colour. Alex told me that it was a pity his eyes were closed as they were strikingly bright blue.

Alex's other top 20 photo was of a friend's dog that she knew from the nearby Thornhill Park.

As with all photographers, I asked Alex questions about her photos and her life. The MyLondon project features photos of London as seen by people who have been homeless, not necessarily what homelessness looks like. Alex was passionate about her art, especially her project to paint dogs as icons. She was a member of the Ten Feet Away art group run in a local church and that's how she heard about our project.

A few weeks later I emailed her the pdf of the man she had photographed in Islington. We decided to call him The Artist. She was happy to see it and I found out later that she had emailed it to several of her friends.

I didn't know that Alex suffered from depression and only found out more about her life after she died on 17 September 2014. She had been an assistant to many well known fashion designers and her job had taken her around the world. She had a loving family: her parents Tom and Sue donated all her winning prize money back to Cafe Art and we created the Alex Davies Portrait Award in her name. She also had many friends who loved her and even invited me to a moving memorial event in Islington a few months later.

One of Alex's closest friends was Janet Awe. This coming weekend Janet is cycling to Brighton from London to raise money for Cafe Art in Alex's memory. We are very grateful for this and urge people to support Janet on the fundraising page.

If you or anyone you know suffers from depression please ask for help. Here is a link to the NHS page which give contact details for many organisations.

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