Liverpool – like many cities worldwide – is undergoing a period of urban transformation. Once an industrial powerhouse, the locale and its iconic maritime spaces now face significant transitions, with many structures being repurposed. For many years, the Mersey Ferry was the primary transport link across the river, with services running between the Wirral peninsula and the city centre. Now, it is increasingly used a tourist attraction, making way for faster trains and buses. The Pier Head, an exhibition at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, brings together over 90 photographs by Tom Wood (b. 1951), commemorating an integral part of the community’s quotidian experience.
The practitioner lived in New Brighton for 25 years and took the ferry regularly during the 1970s and 1980s. The images record the experiences of commuters, families and friends at each stage of the journey, documenting a swiftly disappearing way of life. Wood’s casual yet perceptive body of work foregrounds the importance of individuals and small groups, observing the rituals that bring communities together. As Thomas Dukes, Curator, notes: “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.”
A pervasive sense of identity grounds the series, which is strikingly cemented in the era through a use of colour and subject matter, capturing the look of the decade with arresting clarity. Furthermore, it is being shown in the UK for the first time. Located only a few minutes away from the Pier Head terminal that is at heart of the collection, the show marks the series’ meaningful return roots. As Dukes continues: “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.”
From 12 January. Find out more: www.openeye.org.uk.
1. Pier Head, From The Pier Head Series, Tom Wood, 1979 © Tom Wood