Truth is stranger than fiction. They say “ Follow your dreams, Stephen pursued photography through a passion ignited by a dream he had as a child
All the photographs in this project document Characters and places that are scenes of memorable local events in Grange park history, where I have lived all my life, and include murders, lives lost on the estate with a strong symbolic narrative of superstition that speaks through lingering ghosts of past events affecting the future, deja-vu, omens and portents that ultimately aligns to the birth of the council estate along to its current problems and a personally significant intimate story.
A hidden world not everyone is exposed to.
I would like to exhibit these prints and others where possible with many original ideas I have one including within a gallery exhibitions including sound snippets (not essential), digitally interactive, silver gelatin prints produced from digital files or giclee prints on photo rag, and artefact materials I have myself collected for printing, then sealed in airtight containers and signed in blood or similar with a Japanese needle pen. I would hope to treat them with chemicals that would slowly alter the image but not completely destroy it straight away and reveal a second hidden image over time to the audience. Both latently fast and slowly depending on time available.
I hope to ultimately bring a window of reality through which the audience can see truths they would otherwise be blind to highlighting how areas of social segregation with decreased social mobility cause deprivation that promote undesirable negative behaviours. These behaviours create a mindset of disassociation which continues a vicious circle of cyclical violence and isolation.
When and how was this vicious circle allowed to develop? What, if anything, does the council do to improve the situation? How do I think some of the people living there could be helped?
When I was a child I living on grange park with my nan and grandad, who didn't have luxury's such as toothpaste and the internet nowadays people seem to be more stressed and dropping like fly's, many people have not survived this modern learning curve. My nan and grandad worked hard and lived to a grand old age (76 78 respectively) and we all enjoyed a greater feeling of community and respect for our neighbour and viceversa. Kids would be seen playing with a tweety bird that was purchased off the coal man and be happy all day engaging with this simple toy, nowadays its about knowing and consuming as much as possible through information available on the internet which changes what people do and how they act. There was also the rag and bone man who was a regular site in the neighbourhood along with the bread van and fish van now its just a constant CCTV surveillance by police, blacked out windowed vehicles on the estate that is similar to an ever watching eye or the unknowing generated through a panopticon doesn't deter crime as well you think but only pushes it further underground, out of sight. These methods also usually only promote barriers, an us and them mentality and creates an air of tension between the local people and police.
Today the feeling is of less respect for you neighbour. its more dog eat dog, survival of the fittest in a proper council jungle, where every man/woman/child is for himself/herself and lives a precarious existence, trying to outwit the next person just to stay afloat. The children know more than the adults and experience birth, drink and drugs at a younger age which seems to be getting younger.
Most live through their phones as a window into a world they desire, especially the younger ones who use it in every way you could imagine and ones you couldnt, revenge, surveillance, shaming, drugs, the list goes on.
There is a lot more recreational drug abuse due to rising designer drugs and dealing nowadays. Lots of people deal skunk or other substances such as heroin , crack, cocaine, amphetamines, spice, methamphetamine the list goes on.
Blackpool is a magnet for tourists and people with problems who are dumped in the HMO's that are mainly found in areas around the town centre and north shore, south shore and central drive but not on the council estates. These mainly consist of locals and people already firmly established in the area with a need and good reason to be housed there. Grange Park is mainly made up of council houses and flats where lots of good local people and family's houses can be bought, rented and passed down to their children and family's of which some have lived there for generations. Their way of life and ingrained habitual survival methods become more exaggerated and pronounced through each generation with new survival codes, laws and techniques.
The ingenuity of this adapting underclass is quite astounding as I have witnessed tools they create to deal, evade the law, make money and subsist. There are many positive but unfortunately also many negative social behaviours adapted to survive in this specific isolated environment that could be eased as below.
This has been developed through a lack of social mobility. Ultimately the issue at its core is about visibility. I feel it needs to be broke using investment in infrastructure, methods such as gentrification and the promotion of class integration. The placing together of Housing within different classes needs to be thought about more considerately, a unified universal structure. We need to lose these dividing boundary's such as class and decrease segregation that only ultimately creates long term negative groups, behaviour and division within them.We need to stop building barriers between people that only forms a framework for stigmatisation. The key is losing the visibility of these barriers in each others minds.
By using a poetic dual narrative, he aims to reveal truths, a terrible veritas of treatment at the hands of people he trusted. Stephen will keep doing what he loves as long as he is able and if he can help stop one person from experiencing similar abuse as he has then it will have been worthwhile. But he hopes that his work will help many others.