Exhibition Tour – Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening?

Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? presented by the University of Salford Art Collection, was a touring exhibition of two award-winning series of work from the University of Salford Alumnus. The exhibition sought to challenge typical stereotypes of northern communities through authentic representation.

Easton won Photographer of the Year (2021) at the Sony World Photography Awards with his series Bank Top, a collaboration with writer, poet and social researcher Abdul Aziz Hafiz, examining the representation and misrepresentation of northern communities. Commissioned by Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, the work focused on a small, tight-knit community in Blackburn.  

He also took second place in the documentary category for Thatcher’s Children, which explores the inter-generational nature of poverty and economic hardship as experienced by three generations of one family across the North West.  

Images: Craig Easton, Bank Top, 2020. Courtesy the artist.

Easton often tackles stereotypes and responds to the negative way in which the mainstream media can portray Northern communities. The relevance of Easton’s work has resurfaced in a new light as communities endure the cost-of-living crisis and face new challenges and segregation. 

In addition to the tour and engagement programme, the funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund has enabled 11 key pieces of his work to enter the University of Salford Art Collection, as a permanent legacy of the project. 

The exhibition tour also coincided with the launch of Easton’s book centred on his award-winning Thatcher’s Children series. Quotes from successive prime ministers demonstrate how deprivation is connected to the social policy failures of successive governments.

Map showing the destinations of the exhibition tour across the North West, Blackpool, Birkenhead, Liverpool, and Salford.

The exhibition and engagement programme launched on 12 January 2023 at Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool and continued through to April 2024, spanning three regions of the North West.

Open Eye Gallery


12 January 2023 – 26th February 2023

The exhibition tour was launched at Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool in January 2023. More than 11,000 visitors experienced the exhibition, with responses to the exhibition reflecting the thought-provoking and challenging nature of the work.

Visitor Responses:

“It resonated with what is going on in society now, which made me sad and it’s quite scary because the situation hasn’t changed. That’s what makes it powerful, it was absolutely brilliant. This is what such work should do, leave you with a thought.”

“An absolute gut punch of a show”

“Superb portraiture. The subjects obviously have absolute trust and confidence in the photographer. There is openness and frankness in their faces… I’ve never been to a more moving photographic exhibition.”

“As a migrant, it was so interesting to me that I see different faces from different cultures. it shows a diversity.”

“I find many galleries quite intimidating and I speak as an ex art -student. This gallery is not. It feels very inclusive.”

Press & Reviews:

Craig Easton: Challenging the Stigma Surrounding Northern Communities by Dani Haigh

‘I want my kids to have a chance’: What happened to Thatcher’s children? – in pictures – The Guardian

Images capture challenges of 2020s Britain, photographer says – BBC

Yes, Craig Easton’s photos document the North of England: so what? – Liverpool Post

‘Is Anybody Listening’- Open Eye Gallery ~ Craig Easton by Molly Macafee

Open Eye Gallery hosts thought-provoking new show – Arts City Liverpool

Tory story: Craig Easton examines the cycle of intergenerational poverty within one family in England – British Journal of Photography

Installation Images:

Photography by Rob Battersby.

Leftcoast and Blackpool School of Arts logo.

LeftCoast at Blackpool School of Arts


11 April 2023 – 31 May 2023

The exhibition toured to Blackpool School of Arts with LeftCoast in the spring of 2023. Blackpool was a significant destination on the exhibition tour as the original Thatcher’s Children images, captured in the 1990s, document the Williams Family living in Blackpool at a hostel for homeless families.

As part of LeftCoast’s 2018 Left Behind project, they supported Easton in returning to Blackpool and reestablishing connections with the Williams Family, which led to the creation of the Thatcher’s Children series.

Is Anybody Listening? saw the images return to Blackpool, exhibited alongside Bank Top at Blackpool School of Arts.


It is important and valuable… that photography is not only accessible to all but also that it features in the communities and working-class towns that it represents. In doing so it provides a platform for discussion and hopefully progress.” – Sam Wallis (Our Time, Our Place Curatorial Intern)

Press & Reviews:

Craig Easton: A lens on poverty – Blackpool Social Club

‘My job is to shine a light into dark corners’: Photographer Craig Easton on the ongoing deprivation of Thatcher’s Children – Creative Boom

Left Behind 2018 – Google Arts & Culture

Images from the exhibition in Blackpool:

An images of Craig Easton: Is Anybosy Listening? Installed at Blackpool School of Arts, with people viewing the artwork at the exhibition launch.
Craig Easton, Laura Jamieson and Liz Wewiora laughing together while sat around a table in front of Easton's large black and white photographs installed at Blackpool School of Art.
Craig Easton discussing his work with visitors to his exhibition Is Anybosy Listening? In Blackpool. He stands against a navy blue wall.
An Our Time, Our Place paricpant with long red hair, holds a DSLR camera up to their eye, while standing infront of a large scale black and white portrait of a young man from the Bank Top series.

Photography by Claire Griffiths (imgs 1, 3), Photography by Lucy Hunter (imgs 2, 4).

University of Salford Art Collection at New Adelphi


Thatcher’s Children, 11 September 2023 – 27 October 2023
Bank Top, 3 November 2023 – 22 December 2023

Is Anybody Listening? Arrived in Salford in the autumn of 2023. In Salford, the exhibition was divided into two parts. Firstly, Thatcher’s Children was on display in the New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery from 11 Sept – 27 Oct coinciding with the return of students to campus. Following this, Bank Top encompassed the gallery and atrium space of the New Adelphi Building, showing Easton’s work alongside work created during Our Time, Our Place in Salford.

A celebration event took place on the 2nd of November. This event served as a private view of the Bank Top exhibition, as well as a launch for the Our Time, Our Place engagement programme, inviting the families and communities of those involved to celebrate at the University.

Visitor Responses:

I really enjoyed this exhibition; especially the photograph depicting a man praying in his place of work. Powerful and impactful.

An extremely thought-provoking exhibition with the impressive images giving insight into the area and its residents. Love Afzal with his pigeons!

The photography reminded me of being a kid, playing in the outdoors or in my room with my family.

Powerful images of a story that needs to be told.

Press & Reviews:

Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? seeks to challenge typical stereotypes of northern communities – I Love Manchester

Little Hulton Youth’s Our Time, Our Place Exhibition at Salford’s New Adelphi – Salford Now

Images from the exhibition in Salford:

Photography by Jason Lawson.

Williamson Art Gallery and Museum


25 January 2024 – 6 April 2024

The final destination on the exhibition tour was the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum. Is Anybody Listening? launched in the spring of 2024, coinciding with Wirral’s year as the 2024 Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture.

Easton’s work was celebrated by Civil Leaders and the public at the launch of the Wirral Borough of Culture. Additionally, The Williamson also played host to the Is Anybody Listening? Symposium in February 2024.

Accompanying Easton’s work in Wirral was the work from the mentees Easton had worked with throughout 2023 as part of Our Time, Our Place, alongside photobooks from the Our Time, Our Place participants from Pilgrim Arts Centre.

Press & Reviews:

Learn why Wirral is becoming the cultural hub of north-west England – Travel and Tour World

Why Wirral is the perfect cultural destination for the year ahead – Dublin Live

Award winning showcase by Craig Easton to be displayed at Williamson Art Gallery – Birkenhead News

Is Anybody Listening? Our Time, Our Place is presented by the University of Salford and generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.