Touring exhibition Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? opens at Birkenhead’s Williamson Art Gallery & Museum on 26 January 2024.
Commissioned by the University of Salford Art Collection and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the exhibition showcases two award-winning series of photographs, alongside an engagement programme for young people called Our Time, Our Place.
A long-time advocate for authentically representing communities in the North, Easton’s exhibition seeks to challenge stereotypes and raise aspirations of young people within the region.
Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? has toured across four locations, Salford, Blackpool, Liverpool, and Birkenhead. The engagement programme, Our Time, Our Place, which also includes Blackburn, has empowered young people to discuss current issues, explore their own history, and share it through pathways in photography and associated practices. Outcomes of this engagement work will be exhibited concurrently with Easton’s Bank Top and Thatcher’s Children
“Fundamentally, this project aims to instil pride and inspire communities to shed a new light on their heritage through photography,” says Lindsay Taylor, Curator at the University of Salford Art Collection.
“Craig Easton is one of our valued alumni and to have him onboard for this project is very exciting. Together we hope to empower marginalised voices to explore their own social history through a lens.”
Easton won Photographer of the Year (2021) at the Sony World Photography Awards with his series Bank Top, a collaboration with writer, poet and social researcher Abdul Aziz Hafiz, examining the representation and misrepresentation of northern communities. Commissioned by Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, the work focused on a small, tight-knit community in Blackburn.
He also took second place in the documentary category for Thatcher’s Children, which explores the inter-generational nature of poverty and economic hardship as experienced by three generations of one family across the Northwest.
A passionate believer in working collaboratively with others, Easton also conceived and led the critically acclaimed SIXTEEN project with sixteen leading photographers exploring the hopes, ambitions and fears of sixteen-year-olds all around the UK.
He often tackles stereotypes and responds to the negative way in which the mainstream media can portray Northern communities. The relevance of Easton’s work has resurfaced in a new light as communities endure the cost-of-living crisis and face new challenges and segregation.
Craig Easton said, “I believe in the importance of committed documentary photography as a visual record of our social and cultural history.
“As such I’m excited to be part of the Our Time, Our Place programme to encourage and support young people across the region to find their own ways to express their concerns, examine our ever-changing society and explore our communities. I hope that between us all we can make work that will, for years to come, stand as an historical record of the challenges we face in 2020s Britain.”
In addition to the tour and engagement programme the funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will also enable key pieces of his work to enter the University of Salford Art Collection, as a permanent legacy of the project.