2010 - 2012
Hardback photo and text book, accompanied by a letter, with unique dissemination.
The book ‘Deeds Not Words’ is not being commercially distributed. Instead it was sent out to each of the 433 local authorities in the UK, and to environmental agencies internationally, to raise awareness of issues around the handling of toxic waste and the reuse of contaminated land; it deals specifically with a court case that was brought in Corby, Northamptonshire, by a group of families ( the Corby 16) affected by toxic waste following the reclamation of the town’s now defunct steel works in the 1980s. The book is distinctive in that it is not simply a ‘photo book’: Half the book comprises a section, entitled ‘Words Not Deeds’, with a brief history of the rise and fall of the steel industry, an exploration of the strong identity that migrant Scottish workers in the steel plant forged around them, and a detailed exploration of the Corby 16 court case, including more than 20 pages of scientific evidence concerning the link between chemical pollutants and birth defects.
The sixty photographs in the book represent the community as a whole, not simply the families at the centre of the case. They concentrate on the persistence of a Scottish identity in the town, even amongst third and fourth generation families, and on various manifestations of ‘beauty’ - the entrants in a beauty contest, girls at a nightclub, the children dressed for the town’s Highland Games- encompassing industrial growth and decline, subsequent regeneration and community solidarity. The photographs of individuals who were involved in the court case - George Taylor and Ben Vissian, both of whom were born with fingers missing - are given a context, literally surrounded (in terms of the sequencing of images in the book) by other members of their community, who had no part in the court case but whose lives have nevertheless been shaped by some of the same socio-economic factors.
The aim of the book is to effect a real policy change regarding land reclamation, and to alter the attitude towards the disposal and management of toxic waste in the UK.
The book project 'Deeds Not Words' opened as a gallery exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery, London, running from August 2nd to September 29th 2013. It was accompanied by a symposium upon government policy regarding contaminated land, organised by environmental activist group 'ClientEarth'. Chaired by MP Joan Walley, the discussion led to the creation of a manifesto which will be presented to Parliament.
'Deeds Not Words' at featured on Channel 4 News, 7pm, September 5th 2013:
IN THE PRESS