In 2011 I was commissioned by the small but progressive arts organisation Multistory to make some work in the Black Country, an area to the west of Birmingham in the post-industrial heartland of the British Midlands hit particularly hard by the current economic recession. Covering some 350 sq km, it's home to just over one million people, with some 15% coming from Black, Minority or Ethnic origin.
I began by making a number of urban landscapes, but soon noticed the vast array of beauty salons and gentlemen's clubs peppering the area. Investigating this further, I discovered historical precedents for the success of both beauty and sex industries in times of austerity. In response, I made a series of short movies in a number of thriving salons and nightclubs to 'complement' the apparent bleakness of the landscape depicted in the stills. In a further series, I photographed elegant footwear against a backdrop of grey concrete and crumbling brick.
Collectively, the project seeks to ask questions about perceptions of beauty and the importance of looking good in spite of it all.
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