BANK TOP by photographer Craig Easton examines the representation and misrepresentation of northern communities. The work focuses on a small, tight-knit community in Blackburn, England, which has become synonymous with the use of words like segregation and integration – BBC’s Panorama describing it as ‘the most segregated town in Britain’. Easton’s photographs, alongside texts by writer, poet and social researcher Abdul Aziz Hafiz, aim to confront stereotypes and question the dangerous over-simplification of the challenges facing such communities. They do so by presenting the contemporary experience of residents as an "alternative history telling".
The black and white photographs in the book were all made in an area less than half a mile square in Blackburn during 2019 and 2020. Working with a large-format wooden field camera, Easton spent long days and weeks in the neighbourhood making pictures and talking to residents—some of their testimonies are incorporated into the book. This long-form collaboration, which melds images and text, acknowledges the issues and impacts of social deprivation, housing, unemployment, immigration and representation, as well as past and present foreign policy. The result is a collective and nuanced portrait of the town — a sensitive response to the distorted representation of such communities in both the media and by government, which deny the right of Bank Top to tell its own story.
Craig Easton’s work is deeply rooted in the documentary tradition. He shoots long-term documentary projects exploring issues around social policy, identity and a sense of place. He often working collaboratively with others to incorporate words, pictures and audio in a research-based practice that weaves a narrative between contemporary experience and history. Easton conceived and led the SIXTEEN project with sixteen leading photographers exploring the hopes, ambitions and fears of sixteen-year-olds all around the UK. This Arts Council funded project was exhibited in over 20 exhibitions in 2019 / 2020. His work is held in private and public collections including the FC Barcelona collection, St. Andrews University Special Collections, Hull Maritime Museum and Salford University Art Collection.