Anna Fox – Basingstoke

In this series of seven photographs Anna Fox accompanies each image with a line of text taken mainly from a local newspaper. The set is strongly reminiscent of Martin Parr (not surprising as she studied under him), and depicts various scenes of current life in Basingstoke – or rather life as it was in the late 1980s.

The images themselves present the town as safe and conventional. Some of the text undercuts this with some fairly pompous statements about the future that seems typical of the wealth-obsessed conservative government of the time. Other texts provide what I can only describe as a cry of frustration and rage about how much the town is changing for the worse.

In his feedback on my assignment 3 submission Andy, my tutor, has asked me to question whether my own critical view of the changes to Abingdon since the closure of the MG factory. I have a lot of sympathy for Anna Fox’s position here; I suspect there are a lot of similarities between the changes that Basingstoke underwent in the 1980s and those in Abingdon a few years later. I think if I look back on myself as I was at the end of the 1980s I would be very much in agreement with the frustration side. Nowadays I tend to be a lot more ambivalent; frustration at the loss of individuality but aware that people do have more comfortable lives now. I tried to recognise this ambivalence without coming down too strongly towards a good/bad opinion of the MG factory closure.

In his feedback Andy says that some of the more powerful work comes from photographers who hold a strong resistance to environmental change. That may be true but in the case of the MG factory closure I still have to be even-handed.

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