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Saturday Girl About Town photography series visits Blackpool

Casey Orr is a photographic artist based in The North of England. Her beguiling photography straddles a number of themes with her website spanning images of community, bicycles, huge bonfires, and (my favourite) anarchists.

Her photography practice includes people, documentary, and performance and she describes her work as an exploration into the lives of women, interconnectedness of living things, and our relationship to nature as well as home and belonging. An American-born artist living in Yorkshire, her collaborations have included work on the exterior walls of HMP Leeds prison as well as being featured at a variety of photography festivals and exhibited internationally.

Her most current project Saturday Girl began in 2013 and is an award-winning collection of portraits featuring women in the UK, an accompanying book by Bluecoat Press, and the series-winning The Format Festival award in 2019. I chatted to Casey on an autumnal Tuesday about photography as exchange on Zoom. We talked about music, a huge road trip she took that started on The Leeds Liverpool Canal, and how the new series, Saturday Girl About Town, might enable a platform for female-identifying and young women to communicate their stories during Covid times.

Saturday Girl About Town is a pop-up studio happening in Northern towns that invites you to have your photograph taken with fashion and style at its heart, young folks’ attachment to youth culture sitting forefront within the series. I think a lot about youth culture and how feeling part of something, to have a voice seems key as a human being – particularly when you live in a place like Blackpool a town designed for visitors and tourists. Blackpool is sometimes a place you want to escape as a young person – with local creatives heading to Leeds and Manchester upon graduation.

I joined Casey a few weeks ago at her first shoot in Blackpool at the Winter Gardens surrounded by an excited group of students, keen to be photographed. Is life cyclical with fashion revisited, as a young person I was listening to new forms of house music but was drawn to Motown from my parent’s influence, an obsession with 60’s fashion and music informed some of my dress sense, the chats about being a Mod from my father still enthrall me when we pop Stevie Wonder or Otis Redding on.

It felt like that day in Blackpool at Casey’s photography shoot uncovered a hidden Blackpool female-inspired counterculture perhaps inspired by early 80’s goth, skateboarding, deathrock, cold wave, darkwave, gothic style, dark mysterious smoky makeup with a hint of Harajuku, and punk. Gothic Lolita’s dominated the room that day – it felt powerful, super-skilled makeup and nods to Lydia from Beetlejuice and The Craft. It was joyful and surprising (in the most gothic way) to find young people with such a strong sense of style, a kind of personal performance that struck back from each person there, the opposite of fast fashion, ideas of witchcraft and female power filled the room as dark aesthetics were owned by the young people of Blackpool.

The final portraits made for Saturday Girl About Town will be part of an important national body of work developed across England between 2014 and 2024 with the Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool.

The next Blackpool pop-up studio is this Saturday, November 13th. Everyone is welcome and it’s totally free! It is at Houndshill Shopping Centre (opposite New Look) 12 – 5

 

To find out more about the project and to get involved: -to see Casey’s work and the Saturday Girl book – caseyorr.com

– follow Saturday Girl About Town on Instagram @saturdaygirlphoto @caseyorrphotoor Casey’s blog – https://www.caseyorr.com/blog

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Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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