Stanley! I choose you!

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If you have had a chance to look round my photography exhibition at Civic Hall Stanley you may have been able to recognise certain locations from the surrounding area. I chose Stanley as a subject for this project because, having lived here for the majority of my life, I wanted to show my perspective of the town. Familiarity can lead to complacency and taking things for granted. You might know Stanley like the back of your own hand, but when was the last time you actually looked properly at your own hand, with more than a quick glance anyway! That’s why I wanted to take the time to walk around and have a more detailed look at our surroundings.

Taking pin sharp digital photos would have been an easy and convenient way to accurately record exactly what was there. However, I felt that the muted, soft focus photos I took of Stanley using film were more effective in presenting how the place feels, rather than how it looks. Creating the mirror images with double exposures encourages the viewer to take a closer look at things they probably walk or drive past every day without really noticing.

Narc Magazine’s review describes this exhibition as “an unreal looking ghost world where the lines between what is real and what is not are blurred.”

For example, taking the spire of St Andrews out of context and doubling it up creates a weirdly striking image. A humble pylon in an industrial estate becomes a piece of abstract geometry when multiplied by itself. Even the burger van at Oxhill can become a thing of poetry when flipped on its head.

Because I used film photography there was no ability to edit the images in Photoshop. I think the effects I achieved with the camera itself are an interesting depiction of the area; the photos don’t glamorise or demonise Stanley, they just show it as I see it. It’s up to the viewer to put their own interpretation on to them and that will depend on their own mindset.

There seem to be quite a few people who have a negative view of Stanley or see it as a lost cause, and I wanted to take the chance to challenge this view. It’s not that I have rosy tinted spectacles of my town, but I truly believe that there is beauty anywhere, if you’re prepared to look for it. It’s very easy to be cynical and pessimistic and constantly think that the grass is greener elsewhere. It’s more challenging to actually address the problems we face, and celebrate the things we already have. But the challenge is worth it, because if we actually engage with our community and surroundings we can make positive changes and lead happier lives.

If you would like to find out more about my photography please visit my website www.helentaylorphotos.com or email helentaylorphotos@gmail.com

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