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Alone Together, the Social Life of Benches

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Photo by Esther Johnson

  • Photo by Esther Johnson

    Photo by Esther Johnson


Through a series of oral testimonies and carefully composed portraits, Alone Together, the Social Life of Benches explores how individuals and groups spend time in two distinctive public London locations.

Made by Esther Johnson as part of an Arts & Humanities Research Council project, this poetic documentary illuminates the thoughts and memories of frequent users of General Gordon Square, Woolwich, and St Helier Open Space, Sutton.

Revolving around the micro-space of the humble bench, the film incorporates contributions from a diverse range of visitors. These testimonies highlight themes such as the psychological feeling of being in a space, the rhythm and flow of visitors to a place, the importance of design for everyday street furniture and access to communal outdoor space.

The film acts like a stranger who joins you to ‘watch the world go by’, and to break the ice by starting a conversation with their fellow bench user.


Type of film
Running Time
18 mins
Esther Johnson
Esther Johnson
Executive Producer
Arts & Humanities Research Council
Esther Johnson
Principal Cast
Featuring: the people of Sutton and Woolwich, London

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Last updated 5th June 2017