Christopher John Ball Fine Arts Photographer and Writer

Blackburn - A Town and its People

NEWS A retrospective of Christopher's social documentary project, 'Blackburn a Town and its People' are on show at 'Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery' until 5th May 2018. After the show, the collection will go into the permanent collection of the Museum. Details can be found by clicking here.

Section one of the 'Blackburn A Town and Its People' study Section two of the 'Blackburn A Town and Its People' study
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Click on a Thumbnail above and use the Prev | Next to navigate. The last page of each section will take you back to this contents page.

Christopher John Ball was born and raised in Blackburn - a large English town within the County of Lancashire and one of the first industrialised towns in the world. Like many towns in Lancashire Blackburn's initial prosperity was due to the cotton industry - James Hargreaves, inventor of the Spinning Jenny, was a weaver in Blackburn. Blackburn became a boom town and earned the title 'weaving capital of the world.' This position was challenged in the 1930's due to the far cheaper cotton that was being imported from India and the town had to look to other industries to survive and reinvent itself.

Whilst it would be hard to find many people still employed within the cotton industry today - any visitor to the town would still find many relics from its rich past. The most obvious example would have to be the Leeds and Liverpool canal. A few of the surviving mills that line sections of this historic canal have been restored as working ' heritage ' museums. It is also still possible to witness the crew of barges, now only used for pleasure, using the locks as they navigate this well preserved waterway.

The photographic images included within this section formed part of a touring exhibition, funded by both 'The North West Arts Council' and 'Blackburn Borough Council', entitled 'Blackburn a Town and Its People'

The original photographs were produced between 1979 and 1985 and it was Christopher's intention that the finished piece be an intimate, personal interpretation of life within the town of his birth and a chronicle of the effects that the political climate, of that time, had upon it.

Subject matter included Blackburn's rich ethnic communities, the local economy, the miners strike, privatisation, the flooding of 1985, unemployment and employment, recreation and entertainment, local and national politics, the landscape and attempts at urban regeneration, the effects and failures of Thatcherism etc. The policies of successive governments, in particular the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition, have had a negative impact upon the town and this is something Christopher intends to explore in a revisit of the original project.

The finished project was first shown, in 1985, at The Lewis Textile Museum in Blackburn, England, the exhibition being opened by former Government Minister, and Blackburn's constituency M.P., Jack Straw before touring various venues within the UK.

Christopher continued to photograph Blackburn, adding to the original body of work, until 1989 to form a consistent 10 year study of the town and these images will be placed online on a regular basis.

In 2018 'Blackburn a Town and its People' will be exhibited at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, it is hoped that it will then tour the United Kingdom.

'Blackburn a Town and its People' will be published as a book in 2018.


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