Black Country Type : Tom Hicks
Black Country Type
by Tom Hicks
The Modernist is pleased to announce our latest publication: Black Country Type, the first major retrospective of the work of artist Tom Hicks.
Taken between 2017 and 2023, the images in Black Country Type document the post-industrial landscape of the Black Country.
With a strong emphasis on colour, Hicks focuses on words, typography, handmade lettering and signs. He also photographs ‘types’ of architectural features, objects and structures.
Hicks 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 ‘type’ aspect of the book’s title refers to the thread that runs through Hicks’ work: typography and words in the environment. Hicks has a keen eye for classic typefaces, signs and the handwritten. His images are often playful and highlight the potential for humour and double meanings in words.
Taken on freeform journeys, these photographs document the cultural history of the Black Country region and reflect the impact of industrial decline. His work moves seamlessly between images of derelict factories, underpasses and 21st century warehousing facilities.
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.
His work has the rare ability to span the fields of design and fine art; his images have been shown at design festivals as well as public art galleries. Hicks has developed a socially engaged practice that encourages people to examine their local environment via photowalks.
Black Country Type features over 100 images, many of which are published here for the first time.
The book features a foreword by the artist and photographer John Myers. His books include Looking at the Overlooked and The End of Industry.
Photographs by Tom Hicks
Foreword by John Myers
Design by Laura Jaunzems
Hardcover, 144 pages,
*NB images shown here are digital impressions, the actual books may be slightly different.
The Modernist Society is very grateful for the support it has received from the Key Fund; the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.
To coincide with the launch of the book, the modernist will host an exhibition of Tom's photographs at its gallery on Port Street in Manchester, from 8th September until 28th October 2023.