Yan Preston’s Forest opens at Birkenhead Priory

A collection of work by award-winning photographer Yan Preston has gone on display at Birkenhead Priory. Forest features stunning images of trees in urban environments, presented on six large illuminated boxes. The exhibition can be seen within the grounds of Birkenhead Priory, Merseyside’s oldest standing building, until Sunday 22 September.

Forest is part of LOOK Photo Biennial 2019, in collaboration with Open Eye Gallery. The exhibition is also the first of a summer series of art outdoors as part of Wirral’s year as Borough of Culture for Liverpool City Region. The light boxes have been kindly donated by Heart of Glass, an arts organisation based in St Helens which was 2018’s Borough of Culture.

Yan Preston’s Forest at Birkenhead Priory

A winner of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards, Yan Preston’s Forest looks at the modern practice of moving ancient trees into new places, or planting trees in climates that do not welcome them. In recent years, developers in China have been transplanting old trees into new leisure developments, in an attempt to create a feeling of ready-made authenticity. The trees often die in the process of being moved, or adapt poorly to their new climate.

Amid China’s rapid development and mass construction of megacities, the series captures the contemporary process of attempting to transplant the natural world into urban environments and trying to cover up the newness of new developments.

Tracy Marshall, Director of Development and LOOK Photo Biennial lead for Open Eye Gallery, said: “LOOK Photo Biennial is delighted to bring Yan Preston’s series – Forest to Birkenhead Priory as part of our partnership with Wirral Borough of Culture. This is our first exhibition of two in this year in the borough and we are excited to be working with the council to bring photography to the communities, residents and visitors of the area.”

Forest paves the way for fantastic summer programme of art outdoors in Wirral as part of its Borough of Culture programme. Details of more exciting pop-up and temporary exhibitions in surprising locations and settings appearing across the borough this summer will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Cllr Christine Spriggs, Cabinet Member for Culture and Tourism at Wirral Council commented, “We’re thrilled to welcome LOOK Photo Biennial to Wirral for the first time during our Borough of Culture year. Yan Preston’s award-winning and thought-provoking work is a striking addition to one of our most celebrated historic sites. We hope the exhibition will attract new visitors who want to see extraordinary art in an unconventional setting and add a fresh perspective for those who are more familiar with Birkenhead Priory.”

Later this year, LOOK Photo Biennial will also see Wirral play host to a group exhibition at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum. Originally shown in China by Open Eye Gallery, Distinctly (Friday 27 September – Sunday 24 November) takes a unique approach to the depiction of Britain and its distinct landscapes, industries, social and economic changes through the eyes of ten of the most established photographers working in Britain over the last six decades: Martin Parr, Chris Killip, Marketa Luskacova, John Myers, Tish Murtha, Daniel Meadows, Ken Grant, Niall McDiarmid, Robert Darch and Kirsty Mackay.

Entry to Birkenhead Priory is free. Birkenhead Priory is open Wednesday to Friday, 1-5pm and Saturday and Sunday, 10am-5pm. Throughout the summer there will be a number of opportunities to view Yan Preston’s photographs illuminated at night. For updates on the dates and times for evening viewings, please keep an eye on Open Eye Gallery and Imagine Wirral social media channels and websites.

Visit imaginewirral.com for the latest information.