The North of England can boasts some spectacular sceneries, diversity of amazing cities, national parks, industrial areas and best resorts. It is less inhabited than the other areas of UK, so the characters of northerners are very different from other Britishers. Meet North-British characters and see what is so special about them in Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool.

British curators Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray decided to explore identity, culture and background of the North of England. 
From revue: "North: Identity, photography, fashion" explores the way the North of England is depicted, constructed and celebrated in select photographs, artworks and fashion collections. The show brings together collective visions of the North, unpicking themes that appear regularly in design and media.

Featured objects include documentary work dating back over eighty years, and fashion media from the last thirty years. The ways in which the realities captured in the early projects have become tropes, rehashed and recreated year on year, season on season, is considered.

 "In Looking North”, the cultural historian Dave Russel writes, “The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the cliches and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths".

With this in mind, this exhibition is both about the style and cultural heritage of the North, and the ways in which ideals of it – the clothes, the music, the smells, the houses, the men, the women, the communities – have spread and, in turn, been shaped by others through visual representations.

It is about the evolution of tradition, character and identity
as much as is photography and fashion.

The cultural output of the North has had a global influence. For many, the influence of the North relates to highly personal reflections or formative experience – their designs or artworks pay tribute to the heroes of their youth, the streets they used to walk or the characters they once wished to emulate.
Shirley Baker
Glamorous elderly lady smoking

A big attention in the exhibition is given to gender problems. The aspects of Nothern culture that are most regularly taken up by the fashion press tend to relate mostly to subculture, music and sport. Therefore, a highly masculine, heteronormative and, often, oppressively white image dominates. Men are shown as active and bold, while women are frequently shown in domestic settings or in the role or carers.
John Bulmer
Mill Girls Elland Yorkshire

Photographer Alice Hawkins is full of respect for her subjects and often plays with or challenges these cliches, celebrating the routines and rituals of British women. She seeks to shoot women “who don't confirm to a normal notions of beauty. I admire North-British women – they are audacious in their appearance and behavior. They push what it is to be feminine beyond the realms of normal. Some people may consider them to look tasteless or tacky but I think they are dignified and I am completely genuine with my admiration and representation of them in my work”.

At the exhibition you can find various video content, designer goods, clothes, interview with modern designers, photographies, photo-books telling about original culture and way of life the North of England.

North: Identity, photography, fashion

Open Eye Gallery
6 January – 29 March 2017

Title illustration:
Alice Hawkins
Layton Institute Dancers