Friday, 29 December 2017

A1: BRITAIN on the Verge

In the early 1980s, English photographer Paul Graham, documented the life and landscape of the A1. 25 years later, I made the  photographic journey along Britain’s longest road.
Babs sat under the menu board in BABS cafe where she has worked with her husband Pendleton for "27 long years". Blyth, Nottinghamshire ©Peter Dench

Britain is about to change. The faultlines that exist across the country have been exacerbated by the nation’s 2016 decision to leave the EU and the unconvincing outcome of the June 2017 general election. Communities and families have been divided. Is life in Britain about to become better or worse? Will employment opportunities increase or diminish? Will the economy and industries collapse or thrive? Are the British worried about the future and do elderly people, the majority of whom voted Leave, care less about it than the young? Will Britain leaving the European Union mean immigrants will feel unsafe and be forced to leave? How proud do people feel to be British?

Challis Cooper (20) and Arnold (22) take a break at Baldock Extra Motorway Services, on their way to visit family in Great Yarmouth. Radwell, Baldock, Bedfordshire ©Peter Dench

These are some of the many questions I wanted to put to the people of Britain. The A1, Britain’s longest numbered road, was my tendril to them, an artery that connects as much as it divides. It begins near St Paul’s in the City of London, zipping north through the suburbs of Bedfordshire, the industrial East Midlands, north east England and the east coast of Scotland, ending around 410 miles later in Edinburgh. I travelled it’s length photographing the eclectic characters I met along the way; in truck stops and cafes, temples and homes, businesses and bars. It provided me with a route of certainty in a time of tumult, through a nation on the verge. 

56 year old Sikh, Vaz, hoses down the entrance of Sri Guru Kalgidhar Gurdwara before worshippers arrive on a Sunday. Doncaster, South Yorkshire ©Peter Dench

Houses situated in close proximity to the cooling towers at Ferrybridge Power Stations. Knottingley, West Yorkshire ©Peter Dench

After a break at an OK DINER, Vilma and Darius are continuing on by car to Sheffield. Both Lithuanian, they have lived in Britain for over a decade and aren’t concerned about their residency after the UK voted out in the European Union membership referendum. Newark, Nottinghamshire ©Peter Dench

A selection of the reportage will be exhibited at the Art Bermondsey Project Space in London and YOU are invited

The first 500 visitors to the private view and exhibition will be able to collect a complimentary 71 page softback book

Featured on the BBC

Paul Graham's A1

A1: Britain on the Verge prints