Damien Wootten is a British documentary and art photographer. Much of his work focuses on the North of England. It is a place that has a rich photographic history and a strong contemporary presence. Damien's work draws from that history, and the wider photographic tradition of recording the land and our place within it. His work, in part, looks at how history and politics are embedded in both our communities and landscape.
The Radical Road recorded streets across England, Scotland and Wales named after past radical and socialist figures. The project was exhibited at Woodhorn Museum and his essay on the project was published in the North East Labour History Journal. His latest project The Killing Ditch, maps the topography of Northumberland and Cumbria, bringing a physical, historical and philosophical context to the Roman Wall ditch.
Past publications include Beyond The Angel, which documented the survival of a family farm on the outskirts of Gateshead - and Northern Refuge, which recorded the experiences of asylum seekers and the work the North of England Refugee Service. The newspaper Waterside was published as part of Damien's Sunderland East End photographic residency (which also included a set of limited edition beermats!). Ostdeutsche Radikale Straßen is a self published book of East German postcards - from Damien's own collection, of streets named after prominent socialists. He has self published a range of limited edition zines, including Bastard Seating, and is currently making his Field Baths zine.
Previous exhibitions include Beyond The Angel, On The Verge, Into The Open, The Visitors, Coastal Retreats, Waterside, The Royal Photographic International Print Exhibition 157 and The Radical Road. Close The Door On Past Dreariness, which looks at the current homelessness crisis, was due to be exhibited at Newcastle Arts Centre in March and April of last year, but has been postponed due to Coronavirus.
Damien worked as a commercial photographer for 10 years (and occasionally still does!) and was previously Head of Photography at an FE college on Tyneside. He currently lectures on photography in the Department of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University. He has worked extensively in the community, working on many research projects, commissions, residencies and collaborations.
He is a director of Banyan Arts - an organisation that delivers arts based workshops to a range of groups as diverse as stroke survivors, parents and carers of young people with addictions - and refugee and asylum seekers. Damien runs photography, art and creative writing sessions to encourage well-being, confidence building and rehabilitation through creative expression and togetherness. Since January he has been teaching at Gateshead Clubhouse - a community mental health hub, working directly with some of those most affected by the mental health impact of isolation, due to lockdown.
Recently, Damien had his work selected by The Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool - one of the UK's first dedicated photography galleries - for Open Eye Stories, an online space to discover new photography projects. Damien published Corona Memento Mori in July 2020, a pertinent and beautifully designed and produced cloth-bound hardback book, through his own publishing imprint Frankie's Field Press. With his images of discarded surgical gloves, Damien offers us his philosophical and sociopolitical reading of lockdown's unwanted ephemera. He is currently working on the next FFP publication.
In March of this year, Damien had work from his project The Killing Ditch, selected by The Inside the Outside photography collective, for inclusion in Journal 1: Right to Roam. Pre-order your copy here.