Ken Grant: The Close Season
“No hidden agendas, no exploitation, just a short cut to knowing what it was like to be there” Martin Parr.
We are privileged to be able to dwell awhile in the heart of the home, and witness the tender urgencies of kinship and survivalŠ At the start of his play,’ Juno and the Paycock ‘, the writer Sean O’Casey sets out the foundation for a family’s being. The room is charged with all that is essential: coal for warmth, a frying pan, a teapot, a shovel for work and books to escape. Such a framework is a key to the work contained within The Close Season by Ken Grant, his moving portrayal of changing Liverpool communities. With understated eloquence and celebration of detail, Grant has found an ability to deal with the disquiet, uncertainty and intimate encounters of family life amongst his contemporaries.
Ken Grant started to photograph in Liverpool in the mid 1980’s, and has rarely strayed more than a few miles from the River Mersey in his work. What began as a way of remembering the craftspeople and labourers he grew up around (in his words ‘my ever changing colleagues’) developed into a response to the transience of traditional labour in the region in general, and the social and cultural celebrations that offered respite and strength. This is the sense of autobiography in his work.
The Swedish photographer Anders Petersen once commented that he had tried to take the same photograph for thirty years. Rather than an admission of complacency, there is a suggestion here that a photographer can strive throughout his life for such intimacy and intensity in his work. Not many photographers seen willing to take the time. The dynamism, unease and beauty within Ken Grant’s photographs, suggests that he is aware of such obligations.
Ken Grant is an associate member of Network Photo Agency and a senior lecturer at The University of Wales College, Newport. Ken Grant’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and V&A Museum, London. Signed copies of Ken’s new book ‘The Close Season’, with a story by James Kelman, is available priced €39.25
Artist Talk: Ken Grant will give a talk in the Gallery of Photography on Thursday 13th March at 1.15pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.