Invisible Britain, a forthcoming book of portraits, shows people who have been left out of the media narrative and left behind by government policy – people who for whatever reason fell on hard times, and found there was little or no support, beyond what they might be able to set up for themselves. Running through the book are references to austerity, the programme of public spending cuts introduced in the UK after the recession, and the impact it’s had on the people here – whether it’s in the lack of support for the full-time carer Greg, who ended up committing suicide, or the patchy probation offered to Matt, who’s spent the last decade falling in and out of prison. The spectre of Brexit also looms, and the uncertain future, but all too obvious intolerance, it’s brought in its wake.
Founded in 1997 the Pingyao International Photography Festival is China’s most prestigious photo festival, featuring images from more than 50 countries each year in indoor and outdoor venues across the UNESCO-listed ancient city. This year it includes a huge exhibition called Distinctly, which is curated by Open Eye Gallery’s Tracy Marshall and which will travel to Merseyside in 2019 as one of the main exhibitions of LOOK International Photo Biennial.
Featuring work by 12 documentary photographers – Martin Parr, Chris Killip, Daniel Meadows, John Myers, Markéta Luskačová, Tish Murtha, Ken Grant, Paul Seawright, Niall McDiarmid, Robert Darch, Elaine Constantine, and Kirsty MacKay – the exhibition “takes a unique approach to the depiction of Britain and its distinct landscapes, industries, social and economic changes, cultural traditions, traits and events” over the last six decades says Marshall. “The exhibition looks at the gentle, the humorous, the starkness, the beauty, and the realities experienced and captured by the photographers around their lives living and working in Britain,” she adds.
Kirsty MacKay has two daughters, one ten and one two; when her oldest was a baby she didn’t buy much pink, she says, but “kind of accumulated it anyway”. “We had so many pink clothes I could do a separate pink wash,” she says. “Although as a parent I didn’t like it. “I grew up in the 1970s wearing boiler suits and dungarees and playing with Meccano and Lego,” she adds. “So what I couldn’t understand was how we could have gone back when feminism has moved so much.” Intrigued by the power of this cultural norm she decided to start photographing it, starting with her friends and friends’ children in Bristol, then widening the scope to include strangers and those based elsewhere in Britain. She ended up shooting for six years, amassing over 3000 images. “I took a lot of photographs, but I ended up not using very many from the start,” she says. “They just weren’t good enough, because I was uncomfortable with the idea I was going into someone’s house and potentially criticising their …