Fieldworks: Dialogues in Psychogeography

10 – 26 September 2020.

Return to Wigan Pier

Group Show with Andrew Conroy, Tim Brown, Rob Lycett, Carl Meddings & Sam Welburn. 

Market Gallery (Temporary Contemporary).

Queensgate Market, Princess Street, Huddersfield. HD1 2UH. United Kingdom.

Entrances - via Princess Street or Peel Street.

Return to Wigan Pier: Photographic Mapping After Orwell.

‘Return to Wigan Pier’ maps the contemporary state of the north of England against George Orwell’s original 1936 survey. For me it is a ‘return’ in several senses of the word: going back to places I first visited as a child in the 1960s and 70s; revisiting sites of work previously commissioned for the french newspaper Libération (the french daily newspaper founded in Paris by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1973); as well as re-contextualsing Orwell’s original journey. Using forms of ‘psychogeographic drifting’ to discover subjects, it explores the current cultural identity of England describing working class culture with its peculiar (to some) customs, habits, and mutual differences to show how towns and cities such as Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Wigan have changed since my youth as well as re-framed since Orwell’s original depictions.

A ‘psychogeography’ approach is influenced by Guy Debord's Theory of the Dérive (1956) and the ideas of the Letterist (later Situationist) International, a Paris-based collective of radical artists and theorists. The idea of an unplanned journey through a landscape, recording encounters in the environment - is a subjective response to what is ostensibly a mechanical apparatus of objectivity. The main strategic difference in photographic approach could be best summed up as the difference between a casual drifting chance snapshot and a more formal mapping, or set-up, considered way of working. Here I use both a ‘strait’ detached recording approach - digital medium format (Leica S2P) on a tripod, levelled with deep focus as if working as an architect or surveyor; combined with looser reportage snapshots (using a 35mm 1984 film, Leica M6). A tension: between self-consciously aesthetic images and a documentary approach concerned more with the architecture of ‘historical’ rather than instant moments.

Using Format