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Exhibition review: Blackpool – the main resort – Stan Crook

The first Monday of the month comes around and this time I catch the service 6 bus to view Stan Crook’s photographic exhibition at the Tea Amantes gallery and tea room.

This is an exercise in love for our resort, expertly captured in colour and black and white digital photographs.

Plain frames contain both single and individual images, mostly taken on the sea front at various stages of the year and in various lights. Thus the mood can switch dramatically. The exhibition opening coincided with the start of the Rebellion punk music festival and coincidentally or not, included several fine shots of punks in their finery.

Naturally as a retro film photographer, I particularly liked the monochrome images. All the pictures had caught that Henri Cartier Bresson ‘decisive moment’ (I still must buy that book).

I spoke to Stan and sought the insight behind this project:

“I do a lot of street or photos of everyday life and the best place to get that, over a year, is Blackpool because it’s always changing. You’ve got your in your face summer, then the harsh winters when you get the big seas. So this is one place where you can come here every week and get something different. Blackpool’s Blackpool, there’s no other place like it.”

Stan is then kind enough to take me through his process for three of his favourite images, captioned below.

'This says Blackpool to me all day long. If I show this picture to my American friends they will immediately say 'is that in Blackpool?'. Seriously!
'The reason it's my favourite is because that is undoubtedly in Blackpool. The Golden Mile, the Tower and a guy dressed for the place. It's due to the Rebellion festival. Nowhere else in the world could that be taken. The guy was brilliant: I walked up and bang, got the shot, and I actually sent him a copy of that.'
The lady is Rebellion, she's an older Rebellion lady. Fabulous, enjoying life. Love life like you're going to die tomorrow. If you're going to study, study like you're going to live for ever, but she's living life like she might die tomorrow. Brilliant!'

Stan’s enthusiasm and empathy for his subjects very much comes out in his work. This is a fine record, or even archive of Blackpool tourist life, with some hints of the hinterland, particularly a monochrome picture of lads larking around a roller shutter door.

As ever, the Tea Amantes team had furnished us with drinks and perhaps over-tempting nibbles; the choccy straws were very moorish. A good selection of teas were dotted around to try. Anna and Shamack were as ever the hosts with the most.

With my pics and quotes in the bag, the service 6 bus timetable swung round and I very conveniently got myself home.

Header and final image courtesy of Tea Amantes.

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    I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

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