The New Village
by John Spinks
with an essay by David Chandler

Publication date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9955238-0-7
Price: £30
Binding: Hardcover
Extent: 88pp
Trim size:295x236mm
Photographs: 38 full colour
Text: English

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For over 15 years, John Spinks has been photographing the small mining village in North Warwickshire where he spent his childhood. He left the village aged 18 to pursue the study of photography, and in 2000, began the process of engaging with his past through his work.

Spinks’ large format colour photographs are both sober and beautiful, suggesting the possibility of an uncanny hidden narrative in both the landscape and its inhabitants.

The photographs are a melancholic meditation on the themes of belonging and identity, the images somehow familiar yet oddly unsettling. In both his portraits of the villagers - some of whom he has known since childhood - and the landscape that surrounds them, Spinks captures a brooding, intense quality, as through his lens we are granted intimate access to a guarded world.

Even though Spinks grew up within the confines of the village, his gaze is simultaneously that of a local and an outsider, reflecting his experiences as a child and the adult he became. Through his photographs, Spinks explores the darkness and light of his past through the present, articulating notions of a particular kind of Englishness.

The book will include an essay by David Chandler:

“The rough, uncared-for woodlands that cluster around the built-up residential areas and council estates of post-war Britain are places where dreams and reality are intertwined. They are places of escape, of refuge, and of remnants, where the fears and frustrations of confined lives spill over and drain away. But, there amid the shadows and wandering imaginations, the darkness in people often lingers."
- Excerpt from 'What Are You Looking At', essay by David Chandler

• Photogrpahy Book Of The Month July, The Observer

"The New Village can also be read as a quiet, meticulous meditation on a particularly English kind of place, one that, for all the fascination it exerts on the photographer who grew up there, continues to withhold as much as it reveals."
- Sean O'Hagan, The Guardian / The Observer

"England’s past – rooted in folklore, myths and legends – has always haunted its landscape. It lurks in its remote towns and villages, defining itself with a kind of bleak, uncanny beauty. It’s this mystical quality that Spinks has attempted to capture in The New Village.
- Dominique Sisley, Huck Magazine

"What inspired you to make The New Village?

I have quite a complicated relationship with the village, but I continue to be drawn back there—something about it fascinates me, and each time I go back it makes my imagination work in a very particular way.

- Interview with John Spinks, FotoRoom

When shown some of the photographs from this series, one of the locals asked Spinks if he hated the place. “Of course, I don’t. It’s important to remember that the book is a work of fiction,” he says, more symptomatic of his own melancholic temperament than anything else.
- Salonee Gadgil, Creative Review

Allvarliga porträtt, människor som nyfikna och lite frågande betraktar fotografen. Några av de avfotograferade är gamla bekanta från hans barndom. Vi kan läsa av deras antipati mot den som bröt upp och lämnade gemenskapen i byn. För så är det; när man lämnar ett sammanhang, ett jobb eller en hemort kan man aldrig komma tillbaks och bli betraktad som den man var. Man har blivit, på ett sätt, en främling."
- Tommy Arvidson (Swedish)

"The houses reflect post-war architecture, and a certain idea of community and how they are formed and fall and how they splinter and disappear. Tied in with this are the forces are that have shaped England since the 1960s. I think, taken as a whole, these political and cultural changes are implicit in the images: if you look at the people or buildings and if you can understand the background and are aware of the climate, then there is a lot of meaning in that." - Q&A with John Spinks, ALBAM

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