Henry/Bragg‘s new show at C&C Gallery is a nostalgic look at the bingo hall, examining the faded grandeur and ongoing decay of the old cinemas and theatres that house the game and its loyal players. Through a series of photographs and a film installation piece, as well as the live bingo event to be held in the adjoining restaurant Canvas & Cream, B.I.N.G.O surveys and scrutinises the pervading melancholy of these once bustling spaces and the communities which once centred around them.
As Henry/Bragg, artists Julie Henry and Debbie Bragg’s work utilises a mixture of documentary photography, film and social engagement to highlight the decline of working class culture in our increasingly neoliberal and consumerist society. B.I.N.G.O is a series of photographic works and a film installation of bingo players and the spaces they occupy. The work looks at the changing face of bingo, focussing on the use of old cinemas and theatres as bingo halls and their current demise. Henry/Bragg spent a year documenting these venues around England.
Akin to entering an alternative world, with its own rules and social conventions, Henry/Bragg’s photographs show a decaying grandeur, places formerly dripping with opulence now degraded to housing rows of hard formica tables under harder fluorescent lighting. A melancholy remains, bingo having left its glory days behind and its regular customers declining. These grandiose buildings, which used to have queues around the block, now feel slightly haunted. The traditional bingo game has been in decline for some time and these large venues have proved difficult to fill, fuelled by the smoking ban and the emergence of online bingo. The increasing demand for profitable business has forced the industry to squeeze more money from fewer punters: hand-held tablets are encouraged to enable the playing of multiple games and the bingo callers’ traditional banter has been lost in favour of cramming in more games. The fun, social and positive aspects of the game have been decimated in the process.
Giclée Fine Art prints produced for ‘B.I.N.G.O’ by Genesis Imaging.
23 May – 28 Jun 2015
18 London Road,
Live Bingo event 6th June from 7.30pm
In Conversation with the Artists 27th June from 7.30pm