A brand new book of powerful portrait photography is set for release in November, documenting real stories of people “left behind” by media narratives and isolated by the affects of austerity in today’s Britain.

Invisible Britain: Portraits of Hope and Resilience is a series of 40 stories and portraits spanning 120 pages, carefully curated by writer and film director Paul Sng, recently behind the critically acclaimed documentary Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle; which focuses on the failures and deception behind the social housing crisis. 

Sng worked with 42 photographers across the country, each photographing one portrait, with personal stories about each subject written beside the individuals in the photographs.

Policy Press
The front cover of ‘Invisible Britain: Portraits of Hope and Resilience’

The book covers many intersections of modern British society and is not afraid to include a variety of views, from pro Brexit Craig Dodds through to Emily Green, a performance artist who feels that the current government’s policies work against her.

Each page is as powerful as the one before, and offers a 360 degree view of a Britain that is often difficult to see, hidden behind the overwhelming flurry of information presented by mainstream media outlets.

Se_Invisible_Britain by  Cian Oba SmithCian Oba Smith
Sé © Cian Oba Smith

One thing to note is that Invisible Britain includes work from both established, award-winning documentary photographers, as well as newcomers. These include Birmingham-based photographers Inès Elsa Dalal and Andrew Jackson.

What impresses is the balance that is seen not only in the stories presented, but in the way the project was produced; and it’s that fairness across the board that really gives Invisible Britain its power.

It’s hard not to be moved by the combination of incredible portraiture and potent words in the book, and the team working with Sng have done an excellent job of creating a real artefact of history, documenting a difficult time in the country.

Rhonda -Gascoigne Estate BarkingTyler Wyatt
Rhonda © Tyler Wyatt

The publication has been praised by several high profile creatives and activists, with Nuneaton-born filmmaker Ken Loach, an outspoken critic of austerity, backing the book.

“This book illustrates a truth we cannot ignore,” he said.

“Class conflict is at the heart of our society, the inevitable consequence of this economic system. This should be the first principle of our politics. Paul Sng also shows another eternal truth: in the end, people always fight back. Our task is to ensure that their resistance is not in vain.”

Aditya Chakrabortty described the work as containing “Stories of defiance, of fight and of faith that a better country awaits us all.”

Additional praise came from writers Alan Moore and Kit De Waal, while actor Michael Sheen presents the forward for the book.

Myles © Andrew JacksonAndrew Jackson
‘Myles’ © Andrew Jackson

The book release has a U.K tour and stops in Birmingham on Sunday November 4th at Centrala Gallery. It will feature a screening of Sngs first feature documentary Sleaford Mods – Invisible Britain. 

Following the screening there will be a panel Q&A with director/editor Paul Sng, curator/photographer Laura Dicken, photographers Andrew Jackson and Inès Elsa Dalal, plus Myles Evans-Reid and Aysha Iqbal, whose stories and portraits appear in the book.

Nadine-by-Nicola-MuirheadNicola Muirhead
‘Nadine’ © Nicola Muirhead
Reiss-by-Jo-Metson-ScottJo Metson Scott
‘Reiss’ © Jo Metson Scott
Dan-by-James-McCourtJames McCourt
‘Dan’ © James McCourt
Carl-by-J-A-MortramJ A Mortram
‘Carl’ © J A Mortram
Avi-by-Vivek-Vadoliya Vivek Vadoliya
‘Avi’ © Vivek Vadoliya
'Corinne' © Jenny LewisJenny Lewis
‘Corinne’ © Jenny Lewis
Jenny Carter and her daughter Layla-Rae, Invisible Britain, CornwallAmara Eno
‘Jenny’ © Amara Eno
Margaret_Mitchell_InvB_sRGB_for_screenMargaret Mitchell
Marie McCormack © Margaret Mitchell
Billy-by-Kirsty-Mackay-1024x810Kirsty Mackay
‘Billy’ © Kirsty Mackay
Jasmin-by-Gina-LundyGina Lundy
Jasmin © Gina Lundy

For details and tickets to the Birmingham event, click here. To pre-order the book, click here.

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