Liverpool’s rising young photographers are the driving force behind Open Eye Gallery’s latest exhibition, launching in early July. Open 3: Affecting Change investigates how, in 2017, real societal change is brought about. The exhibition offers a glimpse into the everyday activities of the people working hard to gradually transform the lives of others. All of the work has been produced co-operatively with various collectives across Liverpool, a place renowned for its fierce sense of independence.To produce the work in the free show, the five young photographers aged 25 or under immersed themselves in the day-to-day operations of a range of groups. Rather than simply document their activities, the young artists worked alongside the people in each organisation to encapsulate their ethos and share their success.
Yetunde Adebiyi has produced a set of images with Between the Borders, a group that publish a zine dedicated to supporting refugees and clarifying the asylum process. The zine is a space for poetry, essays and art from both UK citizens and people on their journey through the asylum process. The work will be presented in a zine format across the walls of the gallery, with an accompanying publication.
As part of the project, she accompanied the group to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire, to participate in an ongoing regular protest against the living conditions and asylum situation of the women detained there, some of whom have been held for years awaiting deportation.
Danny Ryder has chosen to focus on News From Nowhere, Liverpool’s long-running radical community bookshop. Danny is taking over the gallery’s upstairs space, recreating the not-for-profit bookshop and hosting a range of independent, feminist and children’s literature for anyone to browse and buy. It will also function as a reading room and social space, with seating and hot drinks provided.
Sarah Fisher, Director of Open Eye Gallery, said:
“This exhibition is a response to a question that I think is crucial to all galleries and cultural institutions today. That question is: ‘what, as a public space, is our role in accelerating the changes we wish to see in the world?’ We want to cast some light on where change happens today, and examine the different ways people go about achieving transformation.
“I think that when we speak about change in radical terms today, many people envision something loud and revolutionary, but that’s simply not always the case. Something that we’ve discovered through working with the young photographers and social organisations to produce this exhibition is that real change is often a long, slow process that demands patience to see tangible results; It’s something proactive rather than reactionary. It is through this diligent work that we transform our society today.”
Libbi Groves is a photography student at Hugh Baird College living with cerebral palsy. Her photographs look at how Stick ‘n’ Step, a Wirral-based charity, help children living with cerebral palsy to become more independent, confident and mobile.
Jane MacNeil has produced a series with North Docks Community Group, a collective that are ensuring Liverpool’s soon-to-be redeveloped North Docks remain accessible and habitable to all the people currently living and working there.
Matty Lambert, the final photographer in Open 3: Affecting Change, has worked alongside UTS Foundation, an athletics institution that offers free and accessible coaching, health and well-being sessions to vulnerable community groups across the Wirral. These groups include disaffected young people, older people with health or mobility issues, and people recovering from cancer care.
Thomas Dukes, curator, said:
“Now that everybody carries a camera in their pocket with the ability to share and publish photos instantly, photography is increasingly becoming an essential part of how we communicate to each other. Across the world, people share millions of fragments of their lives every day. This exhibition is about connecting young people’s passion for photography with the passion of the people behind active, live projects that are making the world a better place, one step at a time.”
Open 3: Affecting Change is supported by Brian Mercer Charitable Trust, as part of their mission to help the development of promising young North West artists working in visual arts. The exhibition runs from 7th July until 17th September at Open Eye Gallery on Liverpool’s waterfront.