Black Country Type

Photographs by Tom Hicks, taken between 2017 and 2023, the images in Black Country Type document the post-industrial landscape of the Black Country.

08.09.23 - 28.10.23

The images within the exhibition and accompanying new book published by the modernist, explore the cultural history of the Black Country region and reflect the impact of industrial decline. Tom’s work moves seamlessly between images of derelict factories, underpasses and 21st century warehousing facilities.

Tom says: “The Black Country is where I’m from and where I still live. It’s a largely unknown place - a place that outsiders may have glimpsed from the motorway or passed through on a train to somewhere else. Black Country Type takes the viewer on a freeform journey through the post-industrial landscape of the region.”

Known for his trademark compositional style, Hicks relies on direct sunlight to illuminate his subject matter, often with the result that landmarks in the West Midlands could be mistaken for scenery in Mediterranean – a humorous juxtaposition that isn’t lost on his audience.

Tom applies a fine art sensibility to his representation of the urban environment. Photography for him is “a medium that allows me to synthesise a wide range of interests, including architecture, design, typography, art, popular culture and history.”

The photographs will be accompanied by three paintings by Mandy Payne who's work is inspired by urban landscape, issues of gentrification, inequality, social housing and the flux of city environments, and in finding beauty in the ordinary and overlooked.

The book Black Country Type features over 100 images, many of which are being published for the first time in this work. The book features a foreword by the acclaimed artist and photographer John Myers, whose books including Looking at the Overlooked and The End of Industry.

To celebrate the publication of Black Country Type there is a pre-launch event taking place on 28th September at Ikon gallery in Birmingham.


The Guardian BBC Dezeen

This exhibition..

at The Modernist
58 Port Street, Manchester M1 2EQ
open 11am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday