11 January -13 February 2010
Atrium Gallery, Old Building
Open Monday - Friday, 10am - 8pm
To view the Golden Road events click here.
Untitled, 20 x 16 inches, digital c-type print, 2009
The Golden Road is a major new commission by Birmingham-based photographer Andrew Jackson, which takes as its starting point the perennial and often contentious issue of immigration. In 2004, the European Union extended its membership to include a number of former Eastern bloc countries. Since this time, in the region of 1 million migrants are estimated to have come to Britain.
The Golden Road centres on the life of one such person, known as M__ who, without being able to speak English, travelled alone, from her village of 2000 people in Bratislava, Slovakia, to England to find work and to start a new life. Over the past two years, Jackson has documented aspects of M's__ life at close quarters, constructing through photographs, written observations and the film, No Work/No Cake (22 min.) an intimate but at times bleak portrait of M's__ attempts to build a life for herself in England. Set in Walsall, where M__ lives, Jackson's images reflect a meticulous and critical approach to representation. Rather than photographing his subject, Jackson has instead chosen to focus on, in detail, elements of M's__ private and public domain. Though devoid of people and often possessing an almost mundane air, Jackson's images are instantly familiar, flitting between domestic settings and public spaces.
Photographs of M's__ flat are not intended to be any more voyeuristic than those taken, by Jackson, in public spaces. Alternatively, through their particular and considered composition, they attempt to construct a portrait of M__, albeit a 'portrait' in which she does not appear. As Jackson explains: 'The images take us across the demarcation line of public and private space, and beyond too, the lines of demarcation between, the parts of our lives we feel we can control, to the chaos of public space, where the reflections and consumption of whom we are are less resolved.' In The Golden Road, Jackson offers a work that can be read in many ways; not least as a counterpoint to dominant discourse which underpinned by hostility and suspicion, have often hampered genuine debate around Britain's relationship to immigration. Equally, in its innovative use of the documentary genre, The Golden Road, is itself a critique of representation in a media age, making it a powerful, yet poignant, portrait of both an individual and of 21st century Britain.
Andrew Jackson completed a Master of Arts in Documentary Photography at the Centre for Photographic Research, Newport (University of Wales), where he studied under Paul Seawright and Ian Walker. He has undertaken a wide range of commissioned work, from editorial assignments to community-based artwork, as well as personally initiated projects. In 2006, he exhibited All That It Was... All That It Is (2006), a powerful series of photographs which intimately explored the lives of individuals in post-apartheid South Africa. This work was subsequently purchased for the permanent collection of the New Art Gallery, Walsall. In 2008, he was commissioned to produce The Hidden Landscape which examined notions of community in the Handsworth and Lozells districts of Birmingham.
The exhibition has been commissioned by LSE Arts and supported by Arts Council England and Harvard International PLC.