Tom Wood

The Pier Head – Tom Wood

Acclaimed street photographer Tom Wood’s new exhibition opens in Liverpool this week.

The Pier Head – Tom Wood is on at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery from January 12 to March 25.

The Mersey Ferries operate between Liverpool and the Wirral peninsula.

Living in New Brighton, Wood crossed the river on most days throughout the 70s and 80s.

He captured the entire journey – from waiting for the boat to arrive, to on board and at the Pier Head.

These images, selected from thousands of rolls of film, form The Pier Head – Tom Wood.

The exhibition is just two minutes away from the Pier Head terminal itself.

Most of the images are on show in the UK for the first time.

A new book, Termini, will launch with the exhibition, featuring a range of images from the show. It also features specially-written text by poet Paul Farley.

Source Photographic Review’s list of The Greatest 150 Photo Books of All Time featured two of Wood’s previous books – Photie Man and Looking for Love.

Tom Wood
Seacombe Ferry from The Pier Head Series, Tom Wood 1985 © Tom Wood

‘Deeply human’

Wood’s Pier Head work was made at a time when being casually photographed was far less common than now.

The 90-plus images on display show commuters, families, friends, the old and the young making the everyday journey across the river; over a kilometre from shore to shore.

However, Wood doesn’t see himself as a reporter.

As John Berger said in 2004: “What seems to me more important than this, is his capacity to enter as an artist into the profound, popular, often inarticulate but deeply human life of the people in the place he chooses to work in.

“He has ‘protected’ a Merseyside that is now eloquent and forever un-loseable.”

Curator Thomas Dukes said: “The work spans a time of change for photography.

“A lot of work from the late 1970s was showing a world that was rapidly being built, yet people in photographs were often treated like actors, representing an idea or branch of society.

“They were rarely captured as individual people in their own right.

“Tom Wood was one of the photographers that disrupted this, by allowing people to bring their own personality into the frame.

“This is an exhibition about the relationships with the recurring people and places in our daily lives.

“It’s about familiarities built during a commute – a journey through the correspondences of gazes – and an exploration of a process of waiting, destinations and points of departure.

“For Open Eye Gallery, there’s something right about sharing these photos here, showing them in a space just a stone’s throw from where many of them were taken. It feels like a homecoming.”

Installation shot: The Pier Head Series, Tom Wood 1985

The Mersey Ferry

Like many cities worldwide, Liverpool has been undergoing a long transition from industrial powerhouse to service city with former functional maritime spaces repurposed for a new generation.

Yet, for generations the Mersey Ferry has been and remains a key transport link across the River Mersey. Ferries run continuously between the Pier Head, Liverpool City Centre, and Seacombe and Woodside on the Wirral peninsula.

Although many still use the ferry to commute, trains and buses have become the primary means of transport over the river for commuters, with the Mersey Ferry becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction.

Ferry Folk, a project from artist and producer Liz Wewiora, will accompany The Pier Head – Tom Wood.

Working as Merseytravel’s artist-in-residence, she has been carrying out a socially-engaged photography project on board the Mersey ferry and around the terminals.

The collaborative work she has produced features photographs and anecdotes telling the stories of the commuters, tourists and staff on board the Mersey Ferry.

A selection of work from Ferry Folk will be shown outside Open Eye Gallery and at the Museum of Liverpool. PhotoStories – Open Eye’s open platform for photographers – will also digitally showcase the project.

Installation shot: The Pier Head Series, Tom Wood 1985

The Pier Head – Tom Wood

The Pier Head – Tom Wood runs from January 11 to March 25 at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool.

A collaboration between Centre d’art GwinZegal, Guingamp and Open Eye Gallery.

Curated by Thomas Dukes (Open Eye Gallery) and Jerome Sother (Centre d’art GwinZegal).

For more information visit openeye.org.uk/whatson-category/main-exhibition

Copy by Sheena Campbell.

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