‘SIXTEEN’ – A Nationwide photography group project. UK.

‘Sixteen’ as a project is borne out of a series of pictures I made with young people during the Scottish Independence Referendum. As a Scotsman living in England, I had no vote and so as a way of engaging with the debate I made a series of photographs of young people who would celebrate their sixteenth birthday on the day of the vote, 18th September 2014. They were the youngest people ever to vote in a UK election and I was encouraged by how engaged they were in the discussions and how seriously they took their responsibilities.

The project got me thinking about the decisions that sixteen year olds make and the opportunities available to them. It is usually the time when you are approaching final secondary school exams and deciding whether to continue in education to study for A-levels or higher qualifications or to leave school and start to make your own way in an uncertain world. At a time when my own daughter was sixteen, it felt like the first time that most people are presented with really important life decisions and I was interested in how different people from different walks of life approached those decisions. How culture, social background, location, gender, ethnicity, family etc all influence what young people think they can achieve in life and the paths they feel that they can take.

I started making more portraits of sixteen year olds in and around the north west of England and in this case asking them to write about themselves, their dreams, ambitions and fears both for their own futures and the future of the world more widely. At an age of personal transition and a time of great uncertainty in the economy, national and international affairs, environmental concerns etc., I was interested to explore the outlook of the next generation - the first social media generation - faced with a Brexit that none of them were old enough to vote for or against. In many cases theirs feels like a much more challenging future than the previous generations as technology and industry change the economy.

Shooting those first few pictures, I realised that I was interested in exploring the experiences and aspirations of sixteen year olds much more widely and so I invited a few friends and colleagues to discuss the idea of making it a group project. I am delighted to say that they all bought into the concept and over a pint of two in a north London pub everyone chipped in with great enthusiasm bringing in their own ideas and their own particular interests and proposals for different ways of working. I felt that as a group, we could really delve into the subject in some depth, exploring the experiences of young people far and wide – it was exciting, but it was going to need a lot of research, preparation, discussion etc to get it off the ground.

That’s were it all started and so before I talk a little bit about the areas I personally will working in, I just want to say a big thank you to all the photographers who have agreed to take part. It’s both a privilege and an honour to be working alongside great friends and colleagues whose work I admire.

In no particular order: Jillian Edelstein, Kalpesh Lathigra, Lottie Davies, Simon Roberts, Sophie Gerrard, Stuart Freedman, Kate Peters, Roy Mehta, Abbie Trayler-Smith, Antonio Olmos, Linda Brownlee, Christopher Nunn, Michelle Sank, Ronan McKenzie, Kate Kirkwood and Simon Wheatley.

So now I am excited that it is all coming together and really looking forward to seeing the work as it starts to take shape in 2018.

Since those initial informal meetings, it’s been a long road to get to this stage, and with the invaluable support of producer Liz Wewiora and creative director Anne Braybon, we are now seeing some real progress as each photographer starts to explore their own themes within the wider project.

Each of us is approaching the project in our own way finding different creative avenues to explore, but always in a collaborative fashion with the sixteen year olds we are choosing to work with. For my part I am concentrating on two themes, both close to my heart. I will be working in island communities around the UK, continuing in the same vein with which I started this project working on a large format film camera and asking each sitter to present their testimony in a hand written text alongside the photograph. I’m looking forward to working with schools and youth groups in some very interesting communities in the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, the Channel Islands and elsewhere.

The second strand of the project for me is looking at the post-industrial communities in the North of England and beyond. I’m interested to explore towns and cities that once relied on one main industry: mining, shipbuilding, textile weaving, steel and chemical manufacture etc, and learn how the experience of young people in those communities today may differ, for better or worse, from the experience of previous generations.

The project has received an initial research and development grant from Arts Council England, and we have been working with schools, youth groups, parents and others to get feedback on the project ideas and how we might involve the young people in the process. Each photographer has her or his own interests and each of us is working closely with Anne to find new ways to present the views of sixteen year olds in words and pictures. We are variously working in stills and video with spoken word audio, handwritten texts and social media messaging.

I look forward to sharing some of my own work and that of my colleagues in the coming months and building an online community exploring what it means to be sixteen in Britain today.

If you would like to know more about the project at this stage, please drop me an email or connect via Facebook etc. and I'll add you to the emailing list for updates

A project website/blog will be launched in the coming months where you can keep up to date with work-in-progress, written contributions by all the photographers and behind-the-scenes pictures etc. but rather than show any of that now, whilst we are just starting out... here's a pic of tow of those first images on show at The National Portrait Gallery in London until 4th Feb.

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Day Trippers

The 7th of July this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Woolton Church Summer Fete in Liverpool where a young John Lennon was introduced to an even younger Paul McCartney for the first time. That meeting has gone down in musical folklore leading to one of the most extraordinary writing partnerships that changed the face of modern music. Now, sixty years on, I’m interested in the relationship of the Beatles to this small part of south Liverpool - just a few streets. I am taken by the idea that tourists travel from all over the world to visit such ordinary suburban streets leading to the somewhat incongruous sight of international day trippers rubbing shoulders with locals in very un-touristy locations.

Often they have travelled from far and wide for a once in a lifetime visit to the UK: they take in Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and a few run down streets of council housing in Liverpool!

Having grown up in Liverpool, I’m intrigued by the power the band still has to attract people from far and wide and how the locals just go about their business semi-oblivious to the daily invasion.

In Arnold Grove in particular, where George Harrison grew up, the house is still occupied by an elderly lady - every day hoards of tourists walk past children playing in the street, as George would have done, to have their picture taken outside her house and sometimes peer in through her windows. In Madryn Street, Ringo Starr’s home, all the houses are now boarded up and visitors come to write on the metal shutters and sometimes to dance!

The Magical Mystery Tour bus passes Madryn St. the childhood home of Ringo Starreaston_beatles_01

Magical Mystery Tour bus tourists (on the pavement) and National Trust visitors (in the garden) of 20, Forthlin Road, the childhood home of Paul McCartney.easton_beatles_02

Canadian Tourists at Forthlin Road.easton_beatles_03

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Spanish tourists at 'Mendips', the childhood home of John Lennon.easton_beatles_05

A 'selfie' for the Magical Mystery Tour at the gates of Strawberry Fields.easton_beatles_06

"Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout", the Magical Mystery Tour passes the  'barber' and the 'bank' at the top of Penny Lane.easton_beatles_07

"In Penny Lane, there is a barber showing photographs"easton_beatles_08

A group of German tourists dancing outside the former home of Ringo Starr. Madryn Street in Dingle is one of 'The Welsh Streets', traditional Liverpool terraces, now all boarded up and awaiting a council decision on whether to demolish or refurbish.easton_beatles_09

A busload of tourists descend on the tiny cul-de-sac Arnold Grove where George Harrison lived as a young boy. The house and those surrounding it are still lived in and each day residents tolerate a stream of visitors from all around the world.easton_beatles_10

FC Barcelona Photography Awards

I'm delighted to announce that my photograph 'Arshia Ghorbani, 16, Toxteth, Liverpool' has won first prize in the inaugural FC Barcelona Photo Awards. The awards were set up to "celebrate the positive intrinsic values common to sport and culture and to communicate the importance and contribution of those values to current society." Arshia’s story is an example of the power of sport in society and a testament to the kind of community spirit that I experience all around the world and especially in Liverpool. It is that spirit of humanity, of welcoming and of togetherness that so enriches our society and must, in the end, prevail over those that spread hate and isolationism.

Arshia is an asylum seeker from Iran now living in Liverpool while he waits for his refugee status to be assessed. As a teenager he has many challenges to face to fit into a new community and new society, not least the challenge of learning a new language and continuing his education in a strange environment. The first thing he did when he came to Liverpool was play football as a way to make new friends and feel accepted. He plays for Kingsley United in Toxteth, known as Liverpool's 'most diverse' football team. He is sixteen years old and tells his story in his own words: he has written his testimony/caption in his native language: Farsi.

An English translation follows:

Hello My name is Arshia Ghorbani and I was born in 01.02.2000. That means that I am 16 years old now. I’m happy person normally but sometimes I can get angry as well. The only thing that I do cheerfully and lovingly is football. I started playing football with an adult team since I was 8 years old which made me good progress in football. I have a lot of plans and dreams, too many!! I like go to school and learning. I really enjoyed of my school and it’s lovely staff and never want to leave the school. I know that all people can’t reach they dreams. It is difficult and hard work to access my dreams. To be a surgeon doctor is one of my main aims. I am good at learning and understanding in school. My first language is one of my main barriers between me and my dreams. It is now just 3 years that I am living in UK, but even now I can’t understand some of the written words; on the other hand I can speak English very well. One of my other problems is that we can’t go on holiday, we are not allowed to travel, we can’t buy a car even if we had the money, as my Dad is not allowed to get a licence, and we don’t have permission for work. That all means we can’t make any decision for our future because we are asylum seekers. That all makes a teenage boy like me to be in desperation and stressful which is not good at my age. Unfortunately I can’t go to university because I am asylum seeker. I know it’s not the UK government fault, but if we think I had potential to be a doctor in future and I could save hundreds of humans lives. I like to help people and made smile on their face who poor and need help. That is the thing other people do for me when I was in need. Anyway I keep going on with the hope and the stress. I don’t let any problem keep me away from my dreams. I can’t and don’t want to make blame on my family or anyone for the situation I have. You must know that nothing is reached easily in the life and you must try hard. If it was easy everyone would be happy and joyful.

https://photoawards.fcbarcelona.com/winfoto/?lang=en

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This photograph is part of my early work on a group project I am leading with fifteen other photographers all around the UK. The project 'Sixteen' looks at the experience, ambitions, dreams, hopes and fears of sixteen year olds from all walks of life all around the country.

A large format C-type print measuring 150cm x 94cm will be unveiled at the awards ceremony and exhibition to be held in Barcelona in June.

 

Travel Photographer of the Year Awards 2016

Delighted and honoured to win the Portfolio award for 'Natural World' in the Travel Photographer of the Year last week. The portfolio of four pictures is taken from my ongoing personal project 'The Lake' - you can see a wider selection from the project on the website: craigeaston.com > travel and landscape series > The Lake.

What the judges said: "Craig's images caught the eye of the judges in the earlier online rounds of the judging but it was only when they saw the sumptuous tones and detail in the prints that their true beauty and quality was fully appreciated."

The prints will be exhibited as part of the TPOTY exhibitions to be held in 2017:

Hull, City of Culture, 18th May - 30th June

Greenwich, London, 4th August - 3rd September

 

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The Tay Valley, Scotland

Amidst all the turmoil surrounding the EU referendum here in the UK last week, I was fortunate to spend a few days up in Scotland continuing my series of large format landscapes. This time The Upper Tay Valley in and around Crianlarich....

With 04.30 sunrise and sunset at 22.30, they were long days. Thanks to the good folk at the Crianlarich Hotel who looked after me with my odd time keeping!

A pint of the Colonsay Brewery IPA was a welcome treat at the end of the day...

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The Independent on Sunday New Review and the modern world

Just a quick update on my Scottish Referendum project - the Independent on Sunday New Review in the UK ran a lovely spread this last weekend..... Also, finally joined the modern world! Please join me on facebook and twitter for news, updates and photography discussion

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The Scottish Referendum Project

On September 18th 2014, the people of Scotland will decide whether they want to break away from the UK and become an independent nation. The Union of England and Scotland has been in effect since 1707 when the two separate countries joined together to form Great Britain. This will be the first time the people of Scotland will vote on full independence from the UK. It is also the first time that 16 and 17 year olds will be given a right to vote in a UK election. Being Scottish, but living in England I don't get to vote on what is potentially the break up of the UK.  Of course, I can see both sides of the argument and so in an effort to understand more, I've been spending some time in Scotland shooting a series of large format photographs of young people born on 18th September 1998. They will celebrate their 16th birthday on the day of the referendum and so will be the youngest people to cast their ballot. It could be argued that being the youngest they also have the most at stake in the future of their country. They are old enough to vote on the breakup of the UK, but too young to consent to having their photograph taken, to young to drive a car, to drink alcohol or to get married. My aim is to give each of these young people a direct voice in the debate without the barrier of a journalists questions or interpretation. Each portrait is accompanied by a hand written text explaining whether the person is voting ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ and their reasons why. I was deeply impressed with all of the young people I spoke to and found them well informed and engaged in the debate, although more than one said to me that they felt it was too much of a responsibility for them to take on when they didn't have, and felt they couldn't know, all the facts and implications of full independence for Scotland. Thanks to all for taking part - democracy and political debate is alive and well in the next generation.

Here's the first few....

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For Sale

A few images from my little series 'For Sale' published in the Independent on Sunday Review yesterday. Shops and online shopping is soooo last year! I reckon you could just about get everything you need by the side of the road - even one or two things you didn't know you needed. Tank anyone?

This blog has moved....

Sorry to regular readers - the blog has moved and I didn't notice! Ooops! I redesigned the website last month and the blog address changed at the same time. Please find me here: http://www.craigeaston.com/news/

Oh and here's a little taste of what you'll find....

latest post 08/08/13...

More images from my ongoing series ‘Dreich’. All prints from this series are made in two sizes:

46”x34.5” on 50”x40” paper, C-type print on Fuji Crystal Archive: edition of 5 plus 2 AP

22”x16.5” on 24”x20” paper, C-type print on Fuji Crystal Archive: edition of 10 plus 2 AP

Rockabilly Nights

A few images from a new personal project Rockabilly Days/Rockabilly Nights. First the nights....

Rockabilly, it seems, is alive and well and living in Liverpool - all pictures shot on location at Camp and Furnace as part of the Action Packed Rockabilly Extravaganza

Thanks to Mike Badger, the main man, who agreed to me taking over one end of the venue for my impromptu studio.

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The scooter club.....and more awards news!

Happy New Year to all and I begin this year with a determination to complete 'The Scooter Club', a project I started at the back end of last year. All guys who are fanatical about the old Lambretta and Vespa scooters from the 50s and 60s - mostly they have been riding them for years and in many cases owned them since new (I understand that some of the parka jackets are not as slim fitting as they were back in the day!). Some of these machines are extraordinary and as soon as the weather improves and I can persuade the guys to bring them out, there will be more pics to follow.... scooterclub_01

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and I've also heard that I had three series of pictures selected for 'Honourable Mentions' at the International Photography Awards in Los Angeles:

Dreich; Eiffel Tower and the VisitBritain 2012 Olympics campaign.

Mud!

You've got to hand it too them. Freezing cold...been raining for days...mud everywhere... The girls and boys, women and men of the cycling world gather come rain or shine for the winter cyclocross series. It's a long, long way from the sun drenched Avenue des Champs-Élysées in July!

Thanks to all who, at the end of the gruelling races, stood in the cold for my camera.

Chapeau to you all!

 

 

 

 

 

The Boatmen

I was down on the seafront and met these guys a couple of weeks back. Here's a few pictures a propos nothing in particular. Just a bunch of men totally immersed in their hobby. Lovely blokes - we had a fascinating morning just chewing the cud and putting the world to rights....

 

Dreich

Well, last day of April and I've heard of April showers but come on...that was ridiculous! Although it did help me with my ongoing personal project 'Dreich' - a wonderfully descriptive Scottish word that I remember my Grandmother in Edinburgh using. Still in general use it means variously damp; dank; dull; dreary; dismal with regards to the weather but for me it can mean an exciting challenge photographically. More to follow, but here's a selection shot this month...Not sure if some of these mightn't more accurately be described as a squall but whilst it felt damp, dank and dreary it looked fabulous...

 

The end of Summer?

Well, we had a full range of weather over the 'summer', didn't we? I've just finished all the shoots for the next book in the '52 Weekends...' series - available in all good bookstores from next April - now it's down to some serious editing. here's a little taster...

The lovely Upper Teesdale

and this really is August in Eskdale, Cumbria

more to follow - watch this space...

The Lake

A  few pictures from an ongoing personal project 'The Lake'. The cold winter weather has brought a wonderful calm to the Lake. A mecca for watersports enthusiasts from all over the country, the lake has been free from all activity other than a few hardy walkers, birdwatchers and one shellfish fisherman washing off his waders...