Sunday, 15 July 2012

Mark Power’s Black Country Stories


A major exhibition of Mark Power’s Black Country Stories will take place at The New Art Gallery Walsall from 20 July 2012 to 15 September 2012 (Tuesday to Saturday - 10 am to 5 pm) – entrance is free.  A special evening viewing will take place on Thursday 19 July between 6 pm and 8 pm; everyone welcome.
West Bromwich’s Multistory, one of the UK’s leading community arts agencies, has commissioned renowned Magnum photographer, Mark Power, to document the Black Country in its many forms.
Mark has created a series of urban landscapes responding to his experience of the Black Country – an area hit particularly hard by the economic recession.  For many years, Mark’s work has sought to reveal the splendour of the everyday and there is a quiet yet simmering beauty in his photographic observations.  During his visits to the region, Mark noticed an array of thriving beauty salons and gentlemen’s clubs, peppering local shopping arcades.  Investigating this further, he discovered a number of historical precedents for the success of beauty and sex industries in times of austerity.  This led to a series of short films made in beauty salons, tattoo parlours and nightclubs. 
A further series of photographs shows elegant footwear seen from pavement level, set against a backdrop of grey concrete and crumbling brick, while a sound installation turns the names used to describe the colours of make-up and tattooist’s dyes into a romantic poem.  All this serves to complement the apparent bleakness of the landscape depicted in the large format photographs.  Collectively, the exhibition seeks to ask questions about perceptions of beauty and the importance of looking good in spite of it all.
On Saturday 8 September 2012, at 2 pm at the Gallery, join Mark Power with Emma Chetcuti from Multistory and Neil Lebeter from The New Art Gallery Walsall for an informal tour of the exhibition.  Please book your free place in advance by calling 01922 654400.
Mark Power:
"I was raised in nearby Leicester so the Black Country does feel faintly familiar, yet I feel detached enough to be able to look at the area with fresh eyes. However, as my project developed, I began to realize that the Black Country became a microcosm for many communities hit hard by the recession. That said, kinder, friendlier people you'd be hard pressed to meet, anywhere. Working here has been a joy.”
Emma Chetcuti, Director of Multistory:
“Mark Power’s work is made with a large format plate camera. He produces beautifully detailed landscapes that draw you in. Mark finds beauty in what is forgotten and in people’s continued efforts to make the best out of what they have. “
Mark Power and Multistory are grateful to the many kind and generous people they have worked with on this project.
Black Country Stories is an innovative portrait of life in the Black Country in the post-industrial Midlands. It reinvents the creative documentation of working class Britain by artists from Humphrey Jennings to Stanley Spencer, George Orwell to Bill Brandt. It does so through the unique connections between Black Country people and international artists enabled by Multistory, through a globalizing, diverse perspective and through its use of new technology to make and distribute the work. 
Black Country Stories is a multi-commission programme, produced by Multistory, that invites outstanding artists to document and record life in the Black Country. Multistory commission internationally renowned documentary photographers, film-makers, and authors to tell amazing stories that celebrate everyday life in the Black Country. 

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