Wirral-based photographer takes A41 trunk road as his theme for new arts project
A TRUNK road which starts in one of London’s richest boroughs and ends in Birkenhead is the inspiration for a major new arts project created by a Wirral-based professional photographer.
Colin McPherson assembled four photographic groups from along the length of the road to contribute pictures which will, along with his own work, illustrate inequality and the increasing income gap in British society today.
The link is the A41 which starts life at the top end of London’s swanky Park Lane and ends on the banks of the river Mersey, in Birkenhead, – one of the poorest parts of England.
The work produced by the groups – many of whom have no previous photographic experience – will feature in a series of exhibitions at venues including Birkenhead’s Williamson Art Gallery.
Colin said: “The project came about after I was in London and saw a sign saying A41. Park Lane is in one of the richest areas of the country and the road ends up in Birkenhead which has a lot of social and economic challenges. They could be described as polar opposites.
“I wondered if people at the beginning of the road in central London at the top end of Park Lane wondered where the road ended up and what life was like at the other end of the A41.
“I had this in the back of my mind when I thought of the project and how you could represent inequality in photography.
“It’s not about how London is rich and Merseyside is poor. Inequality exists everywhere. And the contrast between rich and poor is far greater in Park Lane than in the north end of the road.
“The project is about the income gap and the consequences of that.”
Colin added: “The thing about the road is it changes between urban and rural, historic and modern and rich and poor areas alike.
“It used to be a major national road before the motorway network. Now it’s a series of local roads linked by a number. Part of it has been subsumed by the M40 so it is no longer possible to drive between Merseyside and London using only the A41.
“It’s historically built on an old turnpike which was itself based on a Roman road. Modern life has overtaken it. It just has so many references to what’s going on.
“It’s a very exciting project and I’ve had a great response with inquiries about it from politicians, trade unions, and health campaigners.
“The project is not about poverty. It is about inequality and how the work we produce can be used to inform, stimulate and maybe change attitudes and policy.”
The year-long arts project has a budget of around £20,000 secured from both the Arts Council and the Equality Trust. This will cover costs such as running group workshops and staging exhibitions of their work.
A 20-page newspaper will be produced to describe the work being done on the project. And it has its own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/A41Project.
Edinburgh-born Colin relocated to Merseyside in 2004. He has worked for a variety of national newspapers, published a number of books and has also been involved in a wide range of arts projects and exhibitions.