Coming soon: Bonds / Ripples

29 May - 9 June 2024

Events

European Poetry Festival : Liverpool Camarade

6 July 2024

Events

Webinar: Socially Engaged Photography

22 May 2024

Exhibitions

JOURNEY TO EDEN @ DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY

6 May - 12 May 2024

Past Events

MARRIAGE (IN)EQUALITY IN UKRAINE. Screening and a panel discussion

9 May 2024

Past Events

Casey Orr artist talk and SEPN North West meet-up

18 May 2024

Past Events

Poetry reading: Coast to Coast to Coast

11 May 2024

Exhibitions

National Pavilion of Ukraine @ Venice Biennale

20 April - 24 November 2024

Exhibitions

Open Source 28: Sam Patton – Room to Breathe @ Digital Window Gallery

10 April - 18 May 2024

Exhibitions

Forward, Together @ Wigan & Leigh Archives, Leigh Town Hall

23 March - 28 September 2024

Exhibitions

As She Likes It: Christine Beckett @ The Rainbow Tea Rooms, Chester

1 March - 30 June 2024

Exhibitions

Shifting Horizons @ Digital Window Gallery

27 March - 31 March 2024

PLATFORM: ISSUE 6

26 March 2024

Past Events

Saturday Town: Launch Event

10 April 2024

Exhibitions

Saturday Town

11 April - 19 May 2024

Past Events

PLATFORM: ZINE LAUNCH EVENT

21 March 2024

Home. Ukrainian Photography, UK Words: Tour

4 March - 28 February 2025

Exhibitions

Home: Ukrainian Photography, UK Words @ New Adelphi

4 March - 8 March 2024

Past Events

CREATIVE SOCIAL: IN THE ABSENCE OF FORMAL GROUND

2 March 2024

Exhibitions

We Feed The UK @ Exterior Walls

8 February - 31 March 2024

Past Events

Contrail Cirrus: the impact of aviation on climate change

7 March 2024

Exhibitions

Tree Story @ Liverpool ONE

16 February - 31 May 2024

Open Source #27: Saffron Lily – In The Absence of Formal Ground @ Digital Window Gallery

6 February - 31 March 2024

Past Events

Contemporary Photography from Ukraine: Symposium @University of Salford

4 March - 5 March 2024

Past Events

Is Anybody Listening? Symposium: Commissioning and Collecting Socially Engaged Photography

29 February 2024

Past Events

Different approaches: Artists working with scientists

15 February 2024

Past Events

LOOK Climate Lab 2024: All Events

18 January 2024

Exhibitions

Diesel & Dust @ Digital Window Gallery

18 January - 31 March 2024

Past Events

Tree Walks Of Sefton Park with Andrea Ku

21 January 2024

Past Events

Artists Remake the World by Vid Simoniti: Book Launch

31 January 2024

Past Events

Shift Liverpool Open Meeting

6 February 2024

Past Events

We Feed The UK Launch and LOOK Climate Lab 2024 Celebration

8 February 2024

Past Events

Cyanotype workshop with Melanie King

17 February 2024

Past Events

End of Empire: artist talk and discussion

22 February 2024

Past Events

Book Launch: What The Mine Gives, The Mine Takes

24 February 2024

Past Events

Local ecology in the post-industrial era: open discussion

14 March 2024

Past Events

Waterlands: creative writing workshop

23 March 2024

Past Events

Plant a seed. Seed sow and in conversation with Plot2Plate

16 March 2024

Past Events

Erosion: panel discussion

9 March 2024

Past Events

Waterlands: an evening of poetry and photographs

23 March 2024

Past Events

Force For Nature Exhibition

27 March - 28 March 2024

Voices of Nature: Interactive Performances

28 March 2024

Past Events

Sum of All Parts: Symposium

27 February 2024

Exhibitions Main Exhibition

LOOK Climate Lab 2024

18 January - 31 March 2024

Past Events

MA Socially engaged photography Open Day event

1 February 2023

Past Events

Tish: Special screening and Q&A

13 December 2023

Past Events

Book Launch: A Look At A New Perspective

23 November 2023

Past Events

Community workshops @ Ellesmere Port Library

6 November - 5 February 2024

Past Events

Book Launch: ‘544m’ By Kevin Crooks

30 November 2023

Past Exhibitions

Bernice Mulenga @ Open Eye Gallery Atrium Space

17 November - 17 December 2023

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Image by Chloe, project participant
Image by Elizabeth, project participant
Image by Addison, project participant
Image by Miley, project participant
Image by Lillie, project participant

A Spotlight On the County Road Residency, with Lucy Hunter, Sarah Weights and Tricia Grant-Hanlon

This month we hear from photographer Lucy Hunter with support from Sarah Weights and Tricia Grant Hanlon, who share a collective reflective piece on their current photographic project with young people from Walton, as part of a residency in the County Road area of the North Liverpool area. 

Last Summer, I was commissioned by Open Eye Gallery and Culture Liverpool as Photographer in Residence in the County Road area of North Liverpool. This residency is connected to a wider programme of cultural interventions in the County Road Area, which is part of Culture Liverpool’s Next Generation Neighbourhood Projects. I’ve also been very lucky to have two talented photographers working alongside me on this project: Sarah Weights and Tricia Grant-Hanlon. 

So firstly, a little about me; I am originally from London and have been living in Liverpool for about 4 years. I’ve always been interested in social engagement, and I completed an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at Westminster University in 2019. During my studies I became interested in Community, focusing my practise on social relationships, connection and the spaces that bring people together. It was through working with the Open Eye Gallery on the Crossing Sectors Programme (a training programme for developing skills in socially engaged photography), that my interest in Socially engaged practice became firmly cemented. 

Tricia Grant-Hanlon’s photographic practice has mainly been documentary focused.  She is passionate about working with people and being a part of something that can bring us together. She also has a strong interest in socially engaged photography and is very excited to be working on the County Road residency as a supporting artist. Tricia loves how photography can be a tool for dialogue and can enable people to explore their own life experiences. 

Sarah Weights is a photographer and designer using both film and digital photography, illustration and graphic design to create her work. She graduated from University of Brighton in 2019 with a degree in Illustration. During her studies, she explored themes of community and nostalgia. In third year of university, she began a photography project about the area of Anfield, Liverpool. This project sparked a passion for creating socially engaged work with the local community. Alongside her creative work, she has experienced working as a youth worker, teaching assistant and as an administrator in hospitals around Merseyside. These experiences have informed her interest in people, connection and her creative practice.

In October 2022, we started working with some of the young people linked into Walton Youth and Community Project on City Road (WYCP). The project engages with young people and families from the local and wider community. They do this through Youth Nights, outreach work, one to one support, community work, residentials, holiday programme, detached work and a mobile unit called the Base. Youth and Community manager, Darren Simpson heads up the team of passionate and determined Youth Workers. Like much of the Walton community, WYCP has welcomed us in, and we run our weekly photography sessions from the centre. From the get go Darren and his team have been so supportive of our project and one of the Youth Workers, Connor has been joining us in session and also creating some brilliant work.

Tricia, Sarah and I sat down to talk about the project  thus far, our take on socially engaged photography and County Road and the surrounding areas. This blog post is partly based on key themes and ideas from our discussion. 

When initially talking about our hopes for the project the theme of storytelling came up repeatedly. More specifically, giving individuals agency and allowing them to tell their own stories. I am originally from London, and whilst Sarah and Tricia are from Liverpool, none of us currently live in the County Road area, and we have needed to acknowledge and be mindful of this. It’s important to us that this project isn’t about going into an area and making work that portrays a narrative from our point of view, it’s about facilitating others to tell their own stories and share their views through photography. 

All three of us are experienced in Documentary Photography and we are aware that whilst this informs much of our practice, socially engaged photography is a different way of working. It’s important that we regularly check- in and allow the groups we are working with to inform the direction of the project. By giving participants cameras we want them to have agency over the work they make. We can offer advice, guidance and feedback but we really want the direction to be determined through our collaboration with one another. If we do photograph people, it’s important that we try to make this a shared action and that they are involved in making the photograph and how they are portrayed.

When discussing what draws us to socially engaged ways of working, we all agree that we are passionate about working with people and are intrigued by the lives and stories of others. Photography can serve as such a great tool for giving people a voice and articulating ourselves through visual representation. Many people have a smart phone these days, making photography an accessible and easy to share method of communication. 

Working in Walton and other projects of this kind is a huge privilege, and we don’t take the responsibility lightly. When asking people to speak or make work about themselves, it’s important that they are able to do this in a safe way. For example, it might be decided that some photographs wouldn’t be included for public view. This could be something as simple as a participant not liking the way in which they look in a photo, or it could be deemed that the work is too personal, and possibly the value would come for the person making the work, without having to make it public. The reasons are varied. These are decisions and considerations that need to be mindful of. Just because some work doesn’t make it to public view, we don’t underestimate the significance of it and it serves as a reminder that the process of making work together is just as important (if not more so) as the end product. Photographers and artists working with community groups hold a position of power and we need to keep checking in with our role and the responsibility we have to those we work with. We want people to share their stories and explore their lives through photography, but we want them to be safe in the way this is shared. 

Another key point that came from our discussion is that we all firmly believe that art should be available for everybody. It’s been interesting to see how their experiences influence the work that they make and how they bring these into the sessions.  It’s also great that their getting involved in art projects outside of their school day. Our sessions have been playful, experimental and allowed us to embrace our “mistakes” and see the value in all the work we are making together. 

This brought our discussion on to the legacy of socially engaged photography projects and what will happen once the commission finishes. It’s hoped that the work made will continue to be exhibited in the community, may inspire others to pick up a camera, and the group we are working with will have acquired new skills that will help them to further their photographic practice. We have now completed 10 sessions with a group of young people and have been lucky enough to be joined by a staff member. It would be great if staff may then choose to run photography sessions at WYCP.

Another important consideration for us in relation to our group is the ending of the project and preparing us all for this. It would be useful to discuss as a group what we might like our final sessions to look like and how the group would like to end things. It would be beneficial to encourage the group to think about future goals in relation to photography and how we might support them with this. Whether it be linking them into existing activities, organisations or even encouraging them to study photography formally. By the end of the project we will have all been in one another’s lives for a significant amount of time and we get used to the structure of weekly sessions and making work together. By keeping this in mind we are making sure we plan for a positive and optimistic finish to the group, but not the end of participant’s photographic journey.

We understand that County District has its challenges, and we are not naive to the struggles that are faced by many in the area. However, we have felt very welcomed into the community. Speaking of our experiences, we share a belief that so many locals want to help and share their own ideas and stories. We feel as though the community has really taken us under their wing and into their family. There is so much going on locally, and the sense of identity, connection and pride in this neighbourhood is strong. There are so many amazing organisations within the locality of County Road that engage with, support and encourage locals. When wandering the area we are struck by the evidence of Walton’s history, shown through the architecture, unique details and little clues to what was there before. 

The three of us agree that when making socially engaged work in communities, it’s so important and useful to keep returning to conversations about what we’re doing, why we are doing it and what’s important. When immersed in a project, sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the logistics and head counting. It’s so important to stay present, immersed in our process and savouring our progress as a group. We are so enjoying our time on this residency and continue to be humbled by the kindness and generosity shown, as well as blown away by the fantastic work that the young people in our photography group are making. 

 

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