Photographer Craig Easton is known for producing work that challenges assumptions about working-class community life in the north of England. Two of his past projects are about to resurface at a critical time for a Britain in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
Easton’s new exhibition Is Anybody Listening? arrives in Blackpool this spring, hosted by Blackpool School of Arts, in partnership with local arts company LeftCoast. The Blackpool exhibition is part of a wider tour of the North West presented by The University of Salford Art Collection, with support from Open Eye Gallery and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
In 2021, Easton won ‘Photographer of the Year’ at the Sony World Photography Awards with Bank Top, a series that took an in-depth look at the representation, and misrepresentation, of Northern communities, focussing on a small, tight-knit community in Blackburn. Easton states his role as a documentary photographer is to: “shine a light into dark corners, and hold people to account for what I find there.”
He added: “The work is about challenging culture wars. There are no culture wars. When the media says that, when the politicians say that, we need to fight back as a society. Poverty and social deprivation in this country is a function of the politics.”
Is Anybody Listening? also features Easton’s photographs from ‘Thatcher’s Children’, a commission supported by LeftCoast, which explores the economic hardship experienced by three generations of the same Blackpool family.
LeftCoast’s Artistic Director, Tina Redford, said: “Craig’s exhibition, its themes and its central question, couldn’t be more timely and we are very pleased to be showcasing his work in the town once again, in partnership with Blackpool School of Arts.
“The exhibition is a unique and respectful representation of life in the communities that Craig has been permitted to photograph. Each image has more than one story to tell and they provoke necessary discussions about poverty and relevant topics such as blame, othering, and segregation “
As part of his process, Easton creates a meaningful and authentic rapport with people to capture his distinct images. While the exhibition is in Blackpool, the Blackpool and The Fylde College’s School of Arts will facilitate an engagement programme called Our Time, Our Place to share Easton’s photography process, and inspire and educate young photographers in the town.
Andrew Walker, Blackpool School of Arts’ Curriculum Manager of Further Education, said: “We are very pleased to host Is Anybody Listening? at Blackpool School of Arts and equally delighted that our students will hear from Craig about the skills and sensitivity needed to produce world-class documentary photography. This is also a genuine opportunity to gain an insight into the creative industries at the highest professional level.”
Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? launched 12 January 2023 at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery and will continue through to March 2024 at the following North West locations:
- Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool: 12 January – 26 February 2023
- LeftCoast and Blackpool School of Arts: 11 April – 31 May 2023
- Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery: June 2023 – July 2023 (engagement programme only)
- New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery, University of Salford: Thatcher’s Children 11 September – 27th October followed by Bank Top 6th November – 22 December 2023
- Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Birkenhead: 25 January – 30 March 2024