Cover portrait by David Francis

Words and photos by Alicia Barrett

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A Photo Essay

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I hate the word candid because it’s just overused now – but what I really like to capture is, when you’re taking a photo, I like to catch the before and after of the photo. People’s expressions are more fluid, they’re not as rigid and they’re more expressive.

Alicia Barrett is a British 100m hurdler from Sheffield. She competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, is a European Silver Medallist (2017) and two-time National Champion (2017 & 2018), and trains under the guidance of Toni Minichiello. Alicia recently graduated with a degree in History and has a passion for photography and cinema.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

AB-PE-01

This bus stop is on Crookes Valley road in Sheffield. It was always the start (and end) to every journey I took for nearly seven months. Although three of the seven months was tough balancing training with completing my dissertation (which I loathed and loved), it was a really good time in my life. At the end of every day I’d go home so tired that I’d go straight to sleep. Looking back, it was really beautiful.

This particular photo was taken at 0430am on the way to Belgium. I remember being really tired and questioning why I was having to get up so early (one thing I’m extremely bad at is getting out of bed). But, once you’re up, its majestic. This picture shows the tranquillity of early mornings and helps to remind me why it’s good to get up. I remember being excited to go back to Belgium to compete.

AB-PE-02

I love transport hubs; train stations, bus stops, airports. It’s the sense of anticipation. This is on the way to Manchester airport, on the same trip to Belgium.  It was a long cold trip. I like to sit – often doing nothing but observing the environment. I prefer buses to trains as you get to see more.

AB-PE-03

This is Manchester airport. I fell asleep on the train while rolling through the Peaks. When I woke up, I felt like nothing was working, my eyes stinging and regretting going to bed so late the night before. But then I saw this tunnel. I love the light, the curves, the movement, I could feel the rhythm to what I was listening to.

AB-PE-04

Another train station: Ghent. This was the first thing I saw when I walked in. It’s so cool how he’s leaning on the bike but not falling over it. He makes you think: why is he there? Is he waiting for someone? Who is he waiting for? Do they also have a bike?

After I’ve gone, he’ll live his own life, but the picture will always keep you wondering.  I also love how his sunglasses are half-way down his nose, it adds to his style and pose. The little things of this image make you ponder. However, the Starbucks logo, I feel ruins the mystery – it gives too much reality.

Aalst, Belgium. This is the warm-up track. The year before I went to Belgium, I couldn’t find my Air BnB. I spent nine hours on buses in the pouring rain trying to find where to go. It was awful but at the same time I got to see all around the area. When I finally got to the Air BnB it was run by a really cool woman who was into yoga and climbing. Similar to the man in the station, I have no information about her, I can’t even remember her name, but I remember the stories she told me. How she and her sister mountain ran across South America and did it on no artificial sugar, just honey. I thought that was the coolest thing.

I like how I disappear in this photo, like I finally know where I’m going.

AB-PE-05
AB-PE-06

At the track. This is kind of an ode to one of my favourite albums by inc. no world. It talks to me in a way I don’t understand, but almost never want to understand, I don’t want to make sense of it, I just want to be taken away. Often when you play an album to something or someone it’s written in the words. But with this album I just hear the music, the bass and the harmonies. The relationship I have with it is a forever thing.  I’m always trying to re-create the album work, in different ways.

AB-PE-06

At the track. This is kind of is an ode one of favourite albums by Inc. no world. This album is one my favourite ever albums. It talks to me in a way I don’t understand, but almost never want to understand, I don’t want to make sense of it, I just want to be taken away. Often when you place an album to something or someone it written in the chords. But with this album I just hear the music, the bass and the harmonies. The relationship I have with it is a forever thing.  I’m always trying to re-create the album work, in different ways.

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AB-PE-07

This is also Belgium. I was (again) taking photos at a bus stop. The guys opposite said “take a photo of us”. The guy on the left smiled as he said the words. The other guy was laughing. I didn’t even see kid until afterwards. I like how this has captured a moment, like the shutter speed was meant to be fast, to freeze it all.

AB-PE-08

The Supermarket in Geneva. I like foreign supermarkets. There’s a lot more there than in England: fresher veg and a nice meat counter. You get a real feel for a country.

Geneva: just beside the track.  Geneva is an affluent place. You can tell because the roads are so smooth. I always know how smooth a road is from growing up cycling everywhere. You see very few homeless people in the city centre. 

This man looked calm but even so, when you’re in one of the world’s richest places you don’t expect to see others suffering. I guess just one of the many exposures of capitalism.

AB-PE-09
AB-PE-10

On the train from Lausanne to Zurich airport.  I missed a stop just after this which was a bit scary, but it was ok.  I bought the camera I took this picture with for ten euros in Finland at a second-hand shop. I like the grainy and old effect it has, especially with those big windows in the background. The silhouettes are of some sleepy American travellers.

This is my friend Seun. At a club competition in London. I chose it because it’s a nice photo of him laughing. We’re always laughing and joking. 

He used to train with us when he was at University in Sheffield. Every session was so much fun, we reminisce whenever we see each other.

AB-PE-11
AB-PE-12

My twin sister Ella, my friend Chloe and her mum. I took this at a Women’s League in Birmingham. I hadn’t seen Chloe all year and was so happy to see her. She’s one of those people that even if you don’t see them for a long time, they will always have the same smile on their face. I also love Chloe’s mum, Helen. Chloe tells me how her mum always encouraged her when growing up to show off her natural hair. In a world that loves to tell people their natural beauty is never enough; I love how Chloe’s mum tells her she is more than enough.

AB-PE-13

Another friend, Dom. Again, in Birmingham. He’s reading the Republic by Plato. I Love Plato so much but reading that is a big job!  The sun was out that day, all was good. Dom’s a cool guy. He’s into everything from Britpop to The Streets to Philosophy. He’s a sprinter from London, and one guy that always intrigues me.

Currently, doing a lot of home circuit training and hill runs. While what’s going on isn’t  ideal it is great time to connect with books, nature and long lost projects. Such as my evening painting sessions, keeping me sane amongst it all. 

AB-PE-14

Currently, doing a lot of home circuit training and hill runs. While what’s going on isn’t  ideal it is great time to connect with books, nature and long lost projects. Such as my evening painting sessions, keeping me sane amongst it all. 

AB-PE-14
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