Is Anybody Listening? Our Time, Our Place Exhibition and Engagement Programme

Categories: University Campus

The University of Salford Art Collection is to present Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? and Our Time, Our Place engagement programme for young people in Salford. 

The exhibitions will be held in the New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery and showcase two award winning series of photographs: Thatcher’s Children (11 Sept – 27 Oct) and Bank Top (3 Nov – 22 Dec), generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? seeks to challenge typical stereotypes of northern communities. An accompanying engagement programme Our Time, Our Place aims to raise aspirations of young people and emerging photographers in the region.

“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.  

Bank Top has just been announced as the winner of the 2023 Arnold Newman Prize.

He also took second place in the documentary category for Thatcher’s Children, which explores the intergenerational 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 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.”

A long-time advocate for authentically representing communities in the North, Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? seeks to challenge stereotypes and raise aspirations of young people within the region through an accompanying engagement programme, Our Time, Our Place. will empower young people to discuss current issues, explore their own history, and share it through pathways in photography and associated practices.

Our Time, Our Place has engaged 12 local young people aged 11-16 years via Salford Youth Service since June 2023. During weekly evening sessions held at Little Hulton Family Hub (Wednesdays 6 - 8pm) participants have the opportunity to use cameras, develop photography skills, explore their local area to take photos, learn how to curate exhibitions and socialise with their peers. The programme aims to empower young people to discuss current issues, explore their own heritage, and share it through photography. 

Rob Fulton, Youth Work Manager at Salford City Council said: “What’s great about the project is that the young people are learning a new vocabulary, learning how to talk about taking pictures and about art -most people aren’t used to looking at pictures and describing what they see and what it makes them feel. They’re mainly getting used to using the cameras; most of them have never had a camera before. It’s great to see what people are observing in their own world and what’s important to them through what pictures they’ve taken”.

Gwen Riley-Jones, Photographer and Workshop Lead said: “We’ve really started to think about people, their connections and current issues now and how they might communicate that through photography. I think the ultimate goal with this project is that the young people have had this experience, this time to play with photography, to develop their skills and have spent time doing something they want to do. Who knows where that might go in the future?”

Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? is a touring exhibition, commissioned by the University of Salford Art Collection and has already toured to Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool and Leftcoast in Blackpool. The exhibition will tour to Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead in January 2024. 

In addition to the tour and engagement programme the funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will also enable key pieces of Easton’s work to enter the University of Salford Art Collection, as a permanent legacy of the project.

The exhibition comes at the same time as the launch of Easton’s new book centred on his award-winning Thatcher’s Children series (publication date February 2023). Quotes from successive prime ministers demonstrate how deprivation is connected to the social policy failures of successive governments.

Venue details

The University of Salford Art Collection: New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery, New Adelphi Building, University of Salford, M5 4BR

Thatcher’s Children (Monday 11 September – Friday 27 October ) and Bank Top (Friday 3 November – Friday 22 December). 

Free drop-in tours Thursday 14 September and Tuesday 28 November 12noon. No booking required. More information artcollection@salford.ac.uk 

10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays. 


Image: Craig Easton, Bank Top. 

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