ONE PHOTO - ONE STORY

24.12.2016

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The Chelsea Reach opened in New Brighton in 1968. Both an observer and a participant in the local scene, Wood spent the mid eighties photographing the youth of the city in their search for happiness. They found it in fleeting relationships and hopeless romances, that only usually lasted as long as the effect of their drinks.

“It was always really dark inside the Chelsea Reach nightclub. That was the first thing that occurred to me – that most of information here, all the details, were hidden until the flash lit up the scene. In the dark it looks exotic but the flash reveals these crude photogenic colors.

When I started photographing in the club I used a standard lens. But as time went on I wanted to include more and more within the frame and mostly used a 28mm wide angle.

I like the different stories happening within this picture: there is the youngish man on the left who’s on his own and a girl on the right who’s on her own because both their friends are busy kissing. At the same time the frame is divided, you have the people sitting on the left, the man pushing into the woman on the right and the people talking with their fingers in the background. The man arguing is Liverpool singer-songwriter Steve Roberts.

Years later, having seen this picture exhibited at the Tate Gallery Liverpool, he went home and wrote a song about it ‘Over Here Photie Man’ (my nickname at the time). It’s a catchy song! He goes back to Merseyside in the eighties and a time of bands (and heroin) on every corner. It’s bittersweet nostalgia…

Some of the lines go … We didn’t treat him with suspicion, didn’t knock the camera out of his hand… He caught us kissing who we shouldn’t, dancing dressed up to Wham… In the Tate I was hanging, making shapes with my hands, if you’re listening Steve Henderson, we’re immortal, thank you Photie Man.
Steve Henderson is the guy in he blue Levi jacket on the right.”

Read the full article in LFI 1/2017.
Tom Wood (middle), Chelsea Reach, 24.12.1983

Tom Wood

Born in 1951 in Ireland, Wood always carries a camera on him when he is out and about. Though he is clocking up the mileage, the distances he travels from his home tend to be short – many projects emerge in his immediate surroundings. Looking for Love (1989) is the first photo book where, as in his later often long-term projects, he focusses in an unconventional manner on the daily lives of his fellow human beings.
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