Liz Hingley

Born in 1985, British, lives in London.

The Jones Family

For 3.9 million children across the UK, severe poverty is a fact of life. (The UK has a higher level of child poverty than in most other European countries.) Yet despite its prevalence, Western poverty is often difficult to understand and communicate in comparison to that encountered in the developing world.

During a brief assignment sponsored by the charity Save the Children I became aware of the need to highlight disadvantaged adolescent lives and provide a personal and human visual interpretation of the overwhelming – and often dry and incomprehensible – statistics.

In the autumn of 2010 I began working with the Jones family – two parents and seven children- in order to mutually create a body of work, which speaks about the meaning – and the experience – of deprivation within the context of a wealthy country. As a young person myself it has been a transformative relationship of mutual learning and sharing.

The Jones family lives in a three-bedroom council house in the industrial city of Wolverhampton. This is the first house that the family has lived in for three generations; the mother and father were brought up in caravans, as were their parents. The house is precious to the family and holds many memories for them, to the point that despite its extremely limited size they refuse to move into larger council accommodation.

I chose to use medium format film, ambient lighting and my waistlevel camera, which does not intrude on our direct engagement for a more emotional and sincere approach. I aim to transcend the surface impression of bare floorboards and peeling wallpaper in order to communicate this family’s unique culture and each individual character, their genuine love and compassion towards each other and resilience against deprivation.

In this work I sought to develop a more subtle visual language, one that provides new ways of representing and understanding the fundamental realities of the intergenerational cycle of poverty in the developed world through the story of one family.

Be-pôles, which publishes the collection Portraits de Villes, will offer the winner 2012 carte blanche to photograph the city of her choice. Liz Hingley choose Shanghai.