An exhibition of photographs, opening on 26 October 2013 at the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead, will depict Britain’s growing poverty gap through a series of images made during a year-long journey on the A41 trunk road which runs from London to Birkenhead.
The A41 Project features photographs by Wirral-based artist Colin McPherson taken as he travelled the length of the road, passing through some of the wealthiest and some of the most deprived areas of England. In a series of large-scale contemporary landscapes, the project poses questions about issues around the wealth gap and is one artist’s response to the issue of inequality in our society today. The exhibition is supported by campaigning organisation The Equality Trust and funded by the Arts Council England.
Colin McPherson said: “Working on this project in tandem with The Equality Trust has allowed me to explore through my photography one of the most important social and political phenomenons of today, namely the consequences of inequality and its legacy on society in this country. The images I have created are people-less ‘social landscapes,’ images which simultaneously try to show the effects of our actions while at the same time asking questions about inequality. In this context, I have used the A41 as a metaphor to explore the issues.”
The images have been created by Colin McPherson with separate contributions by groups of local people living on or near the A41 in Merseyside, West Midlands, Milton Keynes and London. The Merseyside group of photographers will show their work simultaneously at the Williamson.
Marc Jones, a multi medium artist based in Rock Ferry, Wirral and who was part of the A41 photographic project added: “It has been fascinating to work on the A41 Project. Meeting people with a wide range of backgrounds, experience and ideas meant we were able to discuss the photographs we took and formulate new directions for the exhibition. The experience of working with a professional photographer has been invaluable in expanding the way photography can work for me and what is possible.”
Prof Kate Pickett from The Equality Trust said: “The evidence that inequality damages society is overwhelming. It affects many aspects of life including physical and mental health, children’s well-being and rates of violent crime. We hope that the A41 Project will provoke debate and help advance the movement for a more equal society.”
Colin Simpson, principal museums officer at the Williamson added: “It is a privilege to have been part of this photographic project and its important message from the beginning. Art has for centuries been a medium for raising social issues worthy of discussion, poverty and inequality prime amongst them. The novel idea of taking the route of one of England’s major trunk roads, running between Woodside Ferry, Birkenhead, and London’s Marble Arch, gives an opportunity to both record and debate the wide range of fortunes experienced by the intervening communities and this exhibition provides a platform for that debate.”