Open Access: Wolves PhotoFest

Sarah Zacharek of Wolves PhotoFest and Tom Hicks of Black Country Type

Sarah Zacharek of Wolves PhotoFest and Tom Hicks of Black Country Type

About the Project

Wolves PhotoFest was created in direct response to headlines and polls claiming Wolverhampton to be a miserable and uncultured place to live. Through photography we aim to prove people wrong and highlight the many wonderful things the area has to be proud of. In 2017, with the support of an Open Access Award from Creative Black Country, we held a photography exhibition at Newhampton Arts Centre, alongside performances from local musicians and dancers. For many exhibitors it was the first time their work had been seen by the public.`

For Black Country Type (Tom Hicks) it was the first time he had even printed any of his images! This year we have been mentoring him through exhibitions in Birmingham, and now, with the support of Creative Black Country, we are bringing his work home! We have worked with the artist to produce his debut photobook, which will launched at the Light House on 13th September alongside an exhibition of his work.

In celebration of the launch we ran 2 photo walks on the 8th September. There was no need to have any photography experience, just a camera on your phone. Guests were invited along to speak to the artist about the way he navigates his walks, chooses his subject matter and selects his images for publication. The 'type' element of his work refers to typography - signs, words and letters in the Black Country. Yet it also refers to 'types' of buildings, features and scenes within the region.

All participants had an image featured in a specially produced zine and on the website. The walks were very casual and friendly and suited to anybody interested in exploring their local area with a more considered approach.

“The photo walks will be a great opportunity for me to work with local people. I’m interested in encouraging people to look more carefully at their surroundings and to perhaps reassess their idea of what is interesting or aesthetically pleasing. I also think it’s important to challenge the idea that you need access to expensive equipment and training in order to produce thought provoking images. It’s mainly about what you choose to look at.” – Black Country Type

Instagram: @wolvesphotofest