The Anfield area of Liverpool is famed for being the home of one of the world’s most successful football clubs – Liverpool FC. In the shadow of the club’s iconic stadium, plans to regenerate are now finally under way. Around 1800 properties are to be demolished in total, with brand new homes, schools and business properties being constructed in their place. Sadly, the community has been pulled apart over the past decade and the streets, for now, are an otherworldly ghost town. Fences have been erected to cut off areas to the public and slowly houses are coming down brick by brick. The set of images I have created are a documentary on the closure of the area, its disrepair, demolition, and finally, its resurrection. The images have been created with inspiration from photographers Len Grant, Robert Polidori and Don McPhee, with the aim of publication in national newspaper The Guardian and local regional newspapers The Liverpool Echo and the Liverpool Daily Post.
When thinking about how to document my subject, I took into consideration the look and feel of the typical photographs featured in The Guardian, both online and in print. Looking at the typical photographs showcased in a Guardian article the images tend to be creative and artistic. They pay attention to traditional artistic rules, such as the rule of thirds and the golden number. Block colour also tends to feature heavily, where the subject allows. The resulting images therefore appear more attractive to the human eye and somewhat more commercial. The subject comes first, however, and the accuracy of documenting what the scene portrays is vital in capturing an accurate image with historical value. Typically, the images are used as an illustration of a story, and so the the main subject of the article is not always the main focus of the image. This is useful when creating an attractive and interesting image and I utilised this technique in creating my photographs.
The set of images I have created document the cycle of construction and destruction present in Anfield at this point in time. This cycle begins with an introduction to the area and the clear dilapidation signified by the graffiti. Immediately we are shown signs that the area is run down signified by closed down businesses and their burnt out premises. One could easily walk with eyes on the pavement and ignore the destruction within. Only when we bring our eyes above the level of the first floor do we see that many of the buildings are in a clear state of disrepair. This brings us to the second stage of the apparent cycle – closure and disrepair. The houses in the area are almost all exclusively boarded up and have been vandalised and abused before being demolished. Visible signs of this are the graffiti, left items and damage signifying the awful state of the area. The following stage is demolition, which is shown by the image of the inside of what used to be someone’s home. We are looking at the remains of the front of the house with no surrounding walls. The shear destruction is apparent and we can see the crumbled bricks lying on top of an old mattress in what would’ve been the front room. In the next stage rebuilding starts to take place, we see the grounds of an old school and its colourful fence, which now surrounds a construction compound housing building materials. We leave the sad scenes of the derelict streets and begin to see signs of a revival. We see builders putting the finishing touches to a series of new houses and the story seems to be concluding with a somewhat happy ending. We can see Christmas decorations lighting up the windows of someone’s brand new home. They signify the warmth of their new life in a new community.
The angle I wanted to portray was the angle which I heard from local business owners and residents. They feel that the regeneration has taken far too long and that there have been several injustices in the entire process. I heard how a local business owner believed that construction companies employed in the area to complete demolition and building work were lining the pockets of politicians. A young couple who still remain in one of the largely abandoned streets said that they were quite happy with having to wait until April 2012 for their brand new home up the street. Despite being somewhat lonely, as the only occupied house on their street, they were looking to the future.
I feel that the set of images I have created portray accurately what I experienced and heard in Anfield. I captured the empty streets, which go unnoticed on a match day at Anfield and the slow collapse of what used to be a healthy community. I decided to keep my images in colour, despite being tempted to add the atmosphere by changing the photographs to black and white. I felt that by leaving them in colour they would fit better into my target publications. If I were to return and add to this series, I would like to shoot portraits of some of the residents with their old and new homes. Overall, I feel this task went well, and if anything I came away with too many images which I would’ve liked to include.