Tired of modern life? Welcome to the off-grid revolt

Tired of modern life? Welcome to the off-grid revolt
Going green — In the UK, more and more people are making the jump to a self-sufficient existence. Photographer Robin Mellor visits communities across the country to find out why.

Photographer Robin Mellor first become interested in off-grid living while shooting in the States.

During a project that saw him documenting America’s various desert communities (including California skate mecca Slab City), he was struck by the philosophies that seemed to knit them all together: freedom, self-sufficiency, a desire to reject the conventional.   

When he returned home to London, he began to research the UK’s equivalents. With rising house prices and a slight relaxation in laws when it came to building homes on green belt land, Mellor found that more and more people were pivoting to an existence off-the-grid.

“Everyone has their own reasons for the choices they make,” he explains. “But I think if I was to try to sum up people’s decision to go off-grid, it would be a mixture of being able to live in a beautiful place that wouldn’t otherwise be financially an option for them, and – more than that – the shared values and community spirit that these places hold.”  

“They are like real communities used to be – everyone knows each other, everyone helps each other out, kids are in and out each other’s houses as if they were their own. It’s much more of a family, or tribal feeling.”

Over the course of the next two years, Mellor visited four of Britain’s off-grid communities, photographing people in and around their self-made homes as they went about pursuing a sustainable way of life. The series – titled A Very British Utopia – demonstrates a coexistence with the natural environment, particularly in the face of a global political climate increasingly at odds with it.

Equally prominent is the thinking behind the decision to live sustainably. Mellor pairs photos with excerpts from interviews – “It’s against the law to be poor in this country”, “The first house I made cost 50 pence to build” – he conducted with residents, exploring their relationship with both their immediate setting and the world around them. 

“These people are truly focused on the impact they have on both their immediate and wider environment. It makes your impact much easier to see when it has a direct effect on your surroundings – when you’re not able to throw away bags of rubbish without thought, and almost everything you eat has only travelled as far as you’ve walked to get it.”

“I think these communities are only in their infancy. Some may look crude, but I think their spirit will carry on far into the future and be adopted by many many people. I think the future may lie somewhere between where they are now and where the rest of society currently finds itself.”

See more of Robin Mellor’s work on his official website

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Latest on Huck

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor
Activism

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor

Groups and artists have been campaigning for Live Nation to drop the bank as a sponsor for Download, Latitude and Isle of Wight over alleged ties to the arms trade.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East
Outdoors

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East

New photo book ‘Football كرة القدم’ draws together pictures from over a dozen photographers to explore the region’s vibrant football culture.

Written by: Isaac Muk

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes
Election 2024

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes

East London legend Crystal talks to Huck about her new campaign, Vote, Babes! which brings together over 20 drag artists to encourage young people to use their vote.

Written by: Ben Smoke

I interrupted Keir Starmer’s manifesto launch – here’s why
Election 2024

I interrupted Keir Starmer’s manifesto launch – here’s why

One of Starmer’s constituents, Alice tried every way to talk to her then MP about the crisis facing her generation, but he did not listen she writes exclusively for Huck.

Written by: Alice, Green New Deal Rising

Bashy: “My dad kept me alive”
Culture

Bashy: “My dad kept me alive”

In our latest Daddy Issues column, award winning actor and MC Ashley “Bashy” Thomas talks traditional masculinity, learning survival skills from his Dad and ‘making it’.

Written by: Robert Kazandjian

How communities of colour fought back
Election 2024

How communities of colour fought back

Micha Frazer-Carroll examines the challenges that the UK’s minoritised communities have faced over the last five years, and reports on the ways that they have come together to organise, support and uplift one another.

Written by: Micha Frazer-Carroll

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now