The Canary and the Hammer

March 23, 2017

Senior Lecturer in Documentary Photography, Lisa Barnard has unveiled a new body of work in response to the financial crisis of 2008.

The work, The Canary and the Hammer, is being launched at the FORMAT festival in Derby today (Thursday 23 March).

Lisa travelled across the World for the project, which has been funded by a Getty Images Prestige Grant. The project has also been supported by the Creative Industries Research Institute (CIRI) and the European Centre for Documentary Research (eCDR).

Lisa, said: “The project as a whole is a response to the financial crisis of 2008 and its exposure of the western world’s determination to accumulate wealth. Like the ‘canary’ taken into the mine, gold is the gauge by which we monitor our environment; the hammer the tool that smashes the structures to which it is embedded. Gold provides a prism through which globalism can be refracted and each topic represents a different strand, underpinned by a peculiar act of faith in its value. Ultimately, gold – mysterious, powerful, singular – is a material substance that fuses together these different versions of striving for knowledge, beauty, wealth and inordinate power.

“The discovery of hidden stories about Gold has been fascinating. I have worked with some fantastic communities including the women of Santa Filomena high up in the Andes in Peru, known as the ‘Pallaqueras’ and with communities in Southern China that are working with hazardous materials to extract precious metals from E-waste (electronic waste).

“I have also collaborated with academics in from other university institutions and businesses within China and here in the UK, creating imagery around research into the creation, extraction and uses of Gold nanoparticles. The project in its entirety has facilitated an engagement with specialists in the field of gold and enabled me to develop a thorough investigation into an extraordinary precious metal that has a number of particular and peculiar qualities.”

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