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Monday, 20 May 2013

Ken Grant: Feel the Love

The Photography Festival at Liverpool Look/13 was a great and diverse example of photography in all its forms, from the Rankin exhibition at the Walker Gallery to Ken Grant's work at the Beacon Community Centre.
Ken  has been photographing around the Centre (and nearby Anfield) for the last 25 years and his work is an example of a longterm community project. Seeing it in a community centre was really interesting too, and gave it quite a different context to the usual book or gallery form.
When I was there was a quiet time , but every now and then somebody would pop in and look at a picture and then get on the phone and wander round the pictures - "remember that old man who used to sit in the corner. There's a picture of him." Or, "there's John's cousin," or that's "Jane's aunt."
There was a sense that this wasn't a distant photographic project but part of Ken's soul at work here, and that this exhibition was more of a sharing than a showing. 
It would have been great to see the reactions the next day when the Centre was busy with people visiting before the football because there was such a sense of people and place.

You could feel the love and consideration in the pictures from the edit and from the way Ken related to the pictures as entities in their own right. Ken talked about a boy who he photographed when he was 5 years old and minding cars for 50p a time, and then showed a picture of the same boy minding cars for £5 a time. There was the man who led the chants at Liverpool, the dog described as 'strong' (I could think of some other words), and the man who looked like the ultimate Liverpool stereotype. This was a time and a place personified.

But people were almost always shown as part of something, in a community, with movement and people and things happening all around. I think they might have looked better in isolation, more odd and eccentric and stereotyped, but at the same time that would have been a kind of stitch up or a one-liner. But there were no one-liners here.

See Ken Grant's work at the Beaconsfield Community Centre, as part of Liverpool Look/13 parallel programme, an altogether fabulous festival.

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