Classroom Portraits Book SigningParis Photo, Grand Palais, Avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris.
Stand D39 (In Camera Gallery), 6pm, November 15th
Paris Photo 2012
Roads to Wigan PierImpressions Gallery, Bradford, until 5th January, 2013
Russell Boyce, Huw Davies, Julian Germain, Graham Hall, John Kemp, Tim Smith
"In the summer of 1984, taking as their starting point George Orwell’s seminal 1937 publication The Road to Wigan Pier, a sociological investigation into the bleak living conditions of the working class in Yorkshire and Lancashire, six newly graduated students of photography were commissioned by Impressions to record and document social aspects of the North of England. Each worked independently and each took a personal viewpoint. These non-judgemental, yet sometimes shocking, photographs show us a way of life that was in terminal decline. This picture of Orwellian dystopia acts as an elegy of the northern urban landscape and its people, on the brink of irrevocable social and cultural change. Today, in-post industrial Britain, we are perhaps inclined to forget the recent past as many of the symbols of poverty and neglect have been replaced by regeneration."
© Julian Germain, 1984
Big MeetingsWoodhorn Museum, Ashington, Northumberland, until December 23rd
Big Meetings is a new series of photographs and films by Julian Germain in response to the annual Durham Miners Gala, commissioned by Durham County Council.
Attended by up to 100,000 people, the Gala is one of the largest political gatherings in Europe. As well as photographing the main event: the parade, speeches and the banner blessings in the Cathedral, Germain has explored some of the deeper stories behind it.
He records the communities and landscapes of former pit villages such as Chopwell, Trimdon Grange and Ferryhill, showing the local residents as they prepare their banners for the Gala. He has visited band rooms, clubs and community centres to portray the brass bands in the places where they practice every week and he has also attended gatherings and meetings of some of the political or campaigning groups who use the Gala as a platform to promote their ideas.
The 2 synchronised video portraits feature a 77 year old man and a 9 year old boy performing the protest song and socialist anthem The Red Flag, encouraging us to consider the dramatic changes that have happened to industry, culture, society and politics during the last 3 generations.
The exhibition is about the significance of working class identity and cultural traditions and their ties to a set of political beliefs at a time when only fragments remain of the industries that framed them. While documenting both the spectacle and the spirit of the Gala, Germain is also implicitly asking questions about the nature of politics now, as capitalism appears to falter and socialist ideals are widely believed to have been marginalised by the rush to consumerism.