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50 Million Believers

cover of the book is a photograph of a Sky TV roadside advert with the words 50 Million Believers, above the hoarding is a blue sky, below are the words 2010-20 a photograph shows a grass bank with box retail stores in the background, in the right foreground a group of adults walk to the left with worried faces, at the top of the grass bank a hoarding bears the words A generation a photograph shows a group of builders in hard hats looking at a building site at Kings Cross a group of men gather outside the entrance of a large building at night a close-up of a protest march a close-up of a crowd of young people in a marquee at a rave in the foreground detritus behind which a red brick clock tower rises against the sky, the clock faces are missing their hands a concrete pier extends into the sea, in the distance are ships, at the end of the pier two men and a boy are fishing the blank end of a house is buttressed by wooden supports, on the wall are two large blue photographic prints of babies the entrance to an estate is clogged with purple refuse bins, to the right a man leaves wearing a kufi cap a view down Whitechapel High Street seen through the frame of a market stall, in the foreground is a red telephone box, in the middle distance an older couple sit on a bench, in the distance the Gherkin is visible a street memorial with many bouquets of flowers, a painting of the dead boys face against blue sky and on another wall the words Justice for Henry! a hoarding displays the words Middlehaven - a Bright future for Middlesbrough, behind rises the towns transporter in the foreground against a flowering hedge is a banner with the words Thank you NHS. Fighting for our lives despite 10 years of drastic underfunding; behind rise three glass and steel luxury apartment buildings a hoarding with the words Battersea Power Station WE LIVE HERE small mountains of sand and gravel behind which part of the Millenium Dome can be seen an architects cgi envisioning of a new development on a hoarding, behind which rise the real part-constructed buildings looking up at the facade of two new buildings, on one the face of a swimmer looms large, on the underside of part of the other building can be seen the distorted reflections of people a crowd of people are walking away from the viewer, one of them is wrapped in a Union Jack in the corner of an art gallery is a melted sculpture, one person looks at it, another looks away a large market stall absolutely full of blue and white baby clothes, at the centre stands a woman looking at the viewer a large black bomb stands in a museum, a grandfather explains something to his young grandson while leaning on it a large amount of plastic detritus floats on water, in one corner there is a plastic wreath, at the centre of which is a womans face a tired looking older man stares at the viewer while seated on a leather sofa a young woman takes a selfie with her boyfriend in front of a nearly deserted bridge with a climate protest banner visible behind them looking up at a statue of a horse and rider, a young man is also sitting on the horse holding a placard that says General Strike Now! on the open deck of a council block, a young boy punches the air triumphantly while sitting on his bike a green hedge and grass, a blue sky and part of a billboard that says yeah but no but yeah but no in large red letters under a grey sky a wide road traces the edge of land, a blue railing separates it from the sea the back cover of the book shows the edge of the billboard, there are also the words Colin Buttimer

Dimensions: w: 28.5cm, h: 39.4cm
Photographs: 2010–2020
Book: 2021

The cover, a snap taken from a speeding car on the A12 en route to Canvey Island, in June 2010. The billboard, a wild claim to national faith in the England football team’s ability to win the World Cup, a transparent ruse to get people to subscribe to an American-owned global media conglomerate’s sports channel.

That blue sky, that green grass.

50 Million Believers comprises 31 pictures of people, places and events: the 2012 Olympic Games, the Shard, ‘regeneration’, property speculation, protest, tragedy, pollution, the north and the south, austerity and inequality. And Arthur, a Glaswegian, not an Englander, seen three times, a man in a foreign country.

It’s a partial perspective of the decade leading up to the country’s secession from the European Union.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.