Photography book: The Black Kingdom, By Brian Griffin


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The Independent Culture

In 2010, the innovative Black Country-raised portrait photographer Brian Griffin was commissioned to create a site-specific installation for an arts centre in a restored Cistercian abbey near Notre Dame, Paris.

The result was a series of portraits and still-lifes combining religious iconography with autobiography; the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. Edith Griffin, the portrait of his mother as a factory-worker (she had boxed headless nails), her hands dripping with "the sewage of industry", was the altarpiece.

The Black Kingdom, in which family snapshots and other relics of Griffin's working-class childhood sit with strikingly original and frequently surreal new portraits, expands upon the exhibition, and combines a visual autobiography with a tribute to the industrial heritage of his childhood home.