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Tom Wood took these photographs on his bus journeys in
Liverpool, England, between 1979 and 1996.
Most were taken on double-decker buses, either of his fellow passengers,
or else of scenes outside the bus. Hes
especially fond of photographing people on other buses. Some are black and white, and others are in
color. Liverpool is not a wealthy city,
and these pictures show working class or middle class people going about their
everyday business. This is not the
England of Merchant-Ivory movies or Brideshead Revisited, but rather
its more closely related to The Full Monty.
people wont find much surprising in these images, since anyone used to riding the
buses in major British cities will be familiar with the kinds of scenes Wood
shows. There are mostly children,
teenagers, young mothers, and pensioners on the buses. They wear their raincoats or anoraks, carry
shopping bags, and talk to each other, read the newspaper or stare out of the
window, sitting or standing if the bus is crowded. Many of the pictures show people waiting at bus stops, or walking
to or from the bus. You see a lot on a
bus, and get a real sense of peoples lives if you pay attention. You see the weariness on their faces,
graffiti on walls and on the backs of seats, and you hear about their plans and
concerns. You also see the streets and
parks scattered with rubbish and litter, desolate housing estates and garish
shop fronts. Theres very little beauty
in this book, but its probably a fair depiction of what Wood actually
experiences on his bus trips.
pictures have been selected from thousands, so each one is carefully
chosen. Careful scrutiny reveals lots
of details, and this is especially true of those where the image combines
reflections in a window with a more direct subject. For example, in a rare picture taken from outside a bus, he shows
people inside the bus, but you can also see Woods himself, taking the picture,
reflected in the bus window.
call this work photo-sociology. It
helps to show a side of British life that rarely gets shown in movies or
TV. It might sound a little dreary, but these images have enough variety and
character to hold the readers interest.
One might compare Woods work to Martin Parrs photographic depiction of
Britain, and theres some similarity, but Parrs work is far more judgmental
and ironic. Wood is a sympathetic
chronicler of the people of Liverpool, and this is an impressive collection of
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College,
Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review.
His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry.
He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can
play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster
communication between philosophers, mental health professionals,
and the general public.
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