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An exhibition about East Manchester by photographer writer Len Grant

The exhibition East 1 to 10 showcases the development of east Manchester as documented in work of photographer and writer Len Grant.

In 2005 he proposed a large-format magazine called 'East', highlighting the regeneration work going on in east Manchester. Len went on to produce the magazine in partnership with designer Alan Ward and local writers including Phil Griffin, Jonathan Schofield and Louise Tickle.

East magazine covers 2 examples

"My interests lie in urban regeneration, and more importantly the people who live through thse both positive and negative experiences of chagne. I vew myself as not just a photogapher, but a story teller giving previously unheard and unseen people a voice and committing their stories to history."

The place now referred to as east Manchester was once an area of factories and workshops with coal mining and a power station. In the post war years, most of the industry disappeared leading to unemployment and related .

In recent decades, the area has undergone regeneration. One of the high points was the Commonwealth Games in 2002.

All ten print issues of East are on display on a table at the end of the exhibition room. I was struck by the quality and impact of the photography as well as the boldness of the design, layout and typography.

On the walls are panels displaying a selection of Len's photographs along with his own comments about the project.

street in east Manchester photo by Len Grant

Through Len's photographs we see streets, houses, construction sites, including the City of Manchester Stadium, the Velodrome, New Islington, Gorton Monastery, part-completred Metrolink stops, junk yards, derelict streets and lots more. We also see images of local people who were happy to have their photographs taken and offer their experiences in recorded interviews with Len.

The East project has now migrated to the internet in the form of a website named www.thisiseast.com. The website uses audio as well as still images.

The story of east Manchester is ongoing and the latest chapter is the dismantling of the controversial B of the Bang sculpture, in progress right next to the exhibition venue.

Len Grant is one of Manchester's best known and most respected photographers. Since becoming a freelance photographer in 1990, he has documented many high profile construction projects across Manchester and Salford. His photographs and writing have featured in a variety of books and exhibitions.

I know Len Grant personally - like me he went to Xaverian College grammar school, though he was older than me and I have no recollection of him (I was there 1969 to 1976). His photographs are both technically excellent but also creative and full of charm and spontaneity. He has built up an irreplaceable body of work documenting the development of Manchester.

The exhibition can be viewed at the Sportcity visitor centre at the junction of Ashton New Road and Alan Turing Way. Exhibition dates are 12 June - 17 July 2009.

Visit the websites www.thisiseast.com and www.lengrant.co.uk.

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2009-06-15

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