2020 Nera di Verzasca Prize - Verzasca Foto Awards
A contemporary photographic journey that embraces the spirit of Priestley’s English Journey, by using the subtitle of the book: ‘Being a rambling but truthful account of what one man saw and heard and felt and thought during a journey through England.’
In the eighty-five years since J. B. Priestley made his English journey, England has changed on a mammoth scale. Priestley was walking through a country that still depended on agriculture and heavy industry; a country ravaged by poverty but yet to be ravaged by the Luftwaffe and the post-war planners. And yet, for all the differences between 1934 and 2018 England, there’s a great similarity between J. B. Priestley and photographer John Angerson – they both set out to report England as it really is, and was, in those years. Since it’s publication 85 years ago, English Journey by J. B. Priestley has become a benchmark for writers, social historians and photographers. George Orwell’s The
Road to Wigan Pier and much of the work of photographer Bill Brandt bears its influence; it was even mooted that it played a part in the policymaking decisions of the Labour
government in 1945. This contemporary photographic journey embraces the spirit of Priestley’s English Journey, by using the subtitle of the book: ‘Being a rambling but truthful account of what one man saw and heard and felt and thought during a journey through England.’ As my journey has taken shape, another global economic downturn similar to that of the 1930s has taken hold. ‘Americanisation’ and homogenisation seem to penetrate almost every town and city. The England I discovered is manufacturing less and has become highly reliant on technology. Celebrity culture and its media stronghold is fast becoming a national obsession. The perceived threat of global terrorism means new laws have been created curtailing the freedom to photograph in public places and PR departments are increasingly stringent as to how their organisations are portrayed. However, the open-hearted spirit of people I have encountered while wandering across England has made me believe, as J. B. Priestley did, that we work as individuals towards a common goal of cooperation never forgetting that we are all dependent on one another.