A retirement village in Berkhamsted might not be the first place you would imagine to find fashion photographer Thurstan Redding — who has shot for the likes of British Vogue, Arena Homme +, i-D, Dazed and Love — but it was here, in Castle Village, that one of his most unique projects thus far took shape.
Captured by Thurstan for the French publication M Le Magazine du Monde, Castle Village has taken the concept of a retirement home and turned it on its head. “Instead of people being housed in rooms, every resident has their own house within the village, which is entirely populated with old people,” Thurstan tells It’s Nice That. “The point of the project was to portray an optimistic and joyful view of old age, a time which is so often seen and presented as bleak and sombre.”
Thurstan’s portraits of the charismatic characters of Castle Village show at once a symbiotic relationship with his fashion editorial work and a stylistic shift into observation versus creation. They pick up on the tiny details that reveal the eccentricities and personalities of those he spent time with. “I met Brenda, who matches the colour of her umbrella to her outfit on special occasions; Hillary, who gets her hair done every single Friday for fish and chips night. There was also a really sweet couple, Bill and Deidre, who clearly still adored each other which was so heart-warming to see.”
“Isolation in old age was a conversation brought up a lot," he adds. "This project really helped me to see the importance of community for these people so often neglected by their own family or bustling cities.”