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The Big Dipper

Bittersweet images of a much-loved coastal town are juxtaposed by sombre statements on the effects of rising global prices on people in England’s most deprived region.


Ruth is a photographer who has become increasingly interested in social politics in her image making. Using analogue processes allows Ruth to slow down her image making, giving more thought to what she captures with her camera. Over many months, she researched to find that Blackpool is regarded as one of, if not the most impoverished areas in the country. With her concern on rising prices only growing with the rest of the country, she couldn’t help but wonder how it may affect local people.


In reference to Blackpool’s famous ride, the title of this body of work is reference to the rollercoaster-like nature of the situation regarding matters of inflation and deprivation.


You are first drawn to the familiar sights of Blackpool, the tower, the beach, the piers. But looking further, you begin to see beneath the facade. Empty streets, empty beaches, the streets behind the sea front, closed shutters and the Ferris wheel missing from the a-frame.


In the most recent indices of deprivation, 22 of Blackpool’s neighbourhoods were found to be in the most deprived one percent nationally. In the context of a national agenda of ‘levelling up’ and the recent and disturbing increasing cost of living, the people of Blackpool may suffer the most on the rollercoaster of changing economic circumstances. How will they cope?


Ruth decided that the project should be informed by the people of Blackpool themselves. Each participant was asked two questions: their opinion of the cost of living; and how this may affect the local community. Some people were there for a day trip or a short weekend break; others are living there, some already feeling the effects of the situation. Ruth's images of Blackpool juxtapose these statements, creating an unsettling and alarming series.

(Statements visible alongside posts on instagram @ruthhartleyphotography, or in published photobook.)

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