Black Country stories

Mark Power

Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition


Black Country Stories questions traditional perceptions of beauty by presenting a photographic investigation of the effect the economic downturn has had on an area of the West Midlands. Complicating traditional perception of austerity and recession, Black Country Stories juxtaposes the beautiful with the ugly and contrasts derelict shopping arcades with the thriving beauty and sex industries, situating the areas of West Bromwich, Dudley, and Wolverhampton in a discourse about austerity, identity, and the landscape of post-industrial towns in the UK. Power’s work is underpinned by an examination of photographs documenting the history and architecture of the area; a sustained anthropological investigation of the Black Country that involved site visits, photographic record, and discussions with local residents and businessmen and women; as well as a more theoretical and critical investigation into the so-called ‘lipstick’ effect, a term that describes the increase in sales of lipstick at times of austerity. Using large-format photography in conjunction with sound and short films, Black Country Stories captures the complex dichotomy between urban downturn and individual appearance and satisfaction that is evident in the local area. The sound installation develops Power’s previous narrative exploration of image and sound in The Shipping Forecast [RAE1996] and is combined with the use of arresting and unusual images and austere landscapes that Power developed while in Poland working on Sound of Two Songs [REF2014] to create an historical record of the Black Country that is both evocative and poetic. This output provides a response to a commission by Arts organisation Multistory and was exhibited at The New Art Gallery Walsall in 2012. Reviewed in both the local and national press, Power’s work was also featured in the journal for The Royal Photographic Society and the British Journal of Photography.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2012
Eventexhibition - New Art Gallery, Walsall, 19 July-15 Sep 2012
Duration: 19 Jul 2012 → …


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