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Book Review: Small Town Inertia

Title: Small Town Inertia.
Photographer: J A Mortram.
Essays: Lewis Bush. Paul Mason.
Poem:  Jamie Thrashivoulou
Reference: ISBN 9781908457363
First published:  Hard back 2017 by Blue Coat Press, Liverpool
Size:310mm x 215mm x 20mm

Jim Mortram, the master of the Long form of photo story, has released his first book. I’ve known Jim Mortram for a few years and all the while he’s been building up to producing this book; closely working with his community in and around his hometown in Norfolk.

Jim’s output is reminiscent of others who have chosen to highlight this sector of our community. The disadvantaged and the disabled.

He is following on* from others like:

Bill Brandt, who in the 1930’s produced hauntingly beautiful images in the East End of London, the North East of England, and Yorkshire. Much of his work was published in the excellent Picture Post in the 1940’s.
Nick Hedges photographs of the poor taken for ‘Shelter’ in areas of deprivation around the UK in the 1960’s and 70’s. About his work Hedges said…

‘Although these photographs have become historical documents, they serve to remind us that secure and adequate housing is the basis of a civilised urban society. The failure of successive governments to provide for it is a sad mark of society’s inaction. The photographs should allow us to celebrate progress, yet all they can do is haunt us with a sense of failure.’

Sir Don McCullinwho’s work in Bradford, shown in his book ‘In England’ highlights the condition of the disenfranchised.

And yet Jim’s work is different. Those excellent photographers were able to walk away. No matter what pain the images they took inflicted on each of them, they went home at night, away from the abject misery they pictured. Away from the districts the impoverished lived in. Away from the conditions they had experienced that day.

This excellent photographer, Jim Mortram does not. He lives in the community he photographs. Being a full time carer for his mother, he experiences first hand the grinding oppression of the careless state on those less able to care for themselves.

His view is long term. His view is personal. His view is compassionate.
And it shows.

Buy it and read it.

Peter Barton
October 2017

*it’s a sad reflection that we need people to ‘follow-on’ to highlight the plight of the disadvantages in this country. Governments should be ashamed.

(my apologies to any photographers I have not included in my short list)

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