Through a narrow alleyway you enter ‘The Cracker’; rolling grass lined with blackberries and stinging nettles. Motorbikes, peds and quads bark loudly at all times of day. The boys race them until they burn out, perfecting the art of the wheelie. The girls nestle around small fires despite the baking summer sun. Here, everyone knows each other.
The Cracker is a series of portraits of teenagers living in Tipton between 2018 and early 2019. Laura was introduced to them by Sandwell Youth Services and she continued to return over a period of one year because she was drawn to the area and its tight knit community. The project takes its title from the area of scrubland that Laura photographed the teenagers in. ‘The Cracker’, as it’s referred to locally, is a youth club without walls and without rules. Laura was fascinated by how this unassuming space has taken on a greater meaning for the young people that live nearby. Through her photographs, she aims to explore the friendships, the unique language and tradition of the area and the characters that, “for me, should not be lost or ignored”.
Multistory has published the portraits in a zine for the participants, with words from a ‘diary’ workshop Laura did with them. They were also presented on 31 May 2019, in an outdoor screening at a special event for local residents with a BBQ, music and kids’ activities in collaboration with Sandwell Youth Service. The zine can be purchased via our online shop.
Laura Pannack is a London-based, award-winning photographer. Renowned for her portraiture and social documentary artwork, she seeks to explore the complex relationship between subject and photographer. Laura’s work has been extensively exhibited and published worldwide, including at The National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, The Royal Festival Hall and the Houses of Parliament. Driven by research-led, self-initiated projects, Laura seeks to fully understand the lives of those she captures on film in order to portray them as truthfully as possible. Perceiving ‘time, trust and understanding’ to be the key elements to achieving this, many of her projects develop over several years.