John-Lloyd Quayle’s photographs taken in and around Merseyside, the Northern metropolitan county renowned for its football, music, night-life and ship yards work against popular misconceptions within the widespread media to portray an honest representation of working-class England.
Born in Birkenhead, Quayle has lived on the Wirral his entire life, and the autonomous documentation of his immediate family, Merseyside landscapes and the people who inhabit them, is fuelled by a rediscovered appreciation for his hometown and desire to capture its continual regeneration.
We spoke with Quayle to find out more about Merseyside's residents.
TRIP: Tell us more about ‘Here I’ll Stay’, where did the title come from?
John-Lloyd Quayle: Here I’ll Stay is a series of pictures which I have been making over last 3 years in and around my hometown. Every day I’ll take pictures, of anything that interests me. My main subject matter is people, but places can be just as interesting. The project is something which I cannot see an end to. I don’t have any intention of moving away from Merseyside and I’m sure I’ll always take pictures.
The title, Here I’ll Stay came from Gerry and The Pacemaker’s song about the River Mersey, 'Ferry Cross The Mersey'. I don’t know how the series will look or feel in a few years’ time but there is one thing I know for sure, I want to stay here in Merseyside. When I heard that line in Ferry Cross The Mersey, I thought that’s what I’ll call the series. Well, at least that’s what I’ll call the first volume of work.
TRIP: We featured your New Brighton series, ‘At The Front’ last year. Apart from the locational parameters, how do the two projects differ?
John-Lloyd Quayle: At The Front and Here I’ll Stay are both a study of a place and the people within that place. At The Front concentrates on the place as a Holiday resort - a place where people go to get away from everything, a sort of utopia from everyday life. Here I’ll Stay is a study of people and a place within everyday life. Here I’ll Stay, for me is more personal, it’s a closer look at people within their environments.
TRIP: How would you describe Merseyside and its residents?
John-Lloyd Quayle: Merseyside as a place is wonderful and the massive variety of people within Merseyside make it so interesting to photograph. There’s so much character and so many different types of people, I could make several projects from this one series.
TRIP: The photographs within ‘Here I’ll Stay’ feel a lot more personal compared to those within 'At The Front', where the vast majority of the people have been caught unawares. Was this a conscious decision?
John-Lloyd Quayle: Photographing people when they are unaware is the best time to photograph them really, it feels more real to me. At the same time though when I’m taking a direct portrait of a person and they know I’m taking the picture there has to be some sort of relationship between you as the photographer and them as the sitter. You have to be fully aware of the person you’re photographing and they have to trust you or something really awkward and posed happens. So yes, I guess there’s a good mixture within the series. I’m working on more portraits at the moment so there will be more posed portraits in the next volume of work.
TRIP: You’ve lived in Merseyside your whole life. Was it difficult to find new things of interest?
John-Lloyd Quayle: Never, it’s the people in the place and the traces of interaction that really interest me. I could walk round day after day, meeting new people and finding new places. Merseyside is a big place for one person with a camera. Time changes, people change and I’m constantly changing. I guess I could carry this project on forever.
TRIP: You’ve stated the series is on-going. How do you plan to take it forward?
John-Lloyd Quayle: It’s taken me three years to produce this series, I’m seeing this point as the end of the first volume of work and I want to move on with the second volume of work now. I’ve gained a great amount of confidence with the camera, I feel more comfortable being the guy who takes pictures and I think this has begun to show in my work. My plan is to walk further, drive further, meet more new people, photograph them and further my study of the people of Merseyside. As I said earlier, time changes, people change, nothing stays the same. There will always be something to record. New things are happening all the time and I’ll be here ready to photograph it all.
TRIP: Has your opinion of Merseyside changed since starting the project?
John-Lloyd Quayle: My opinion on Merseyside has changed slowly over the last few years, as a rebellious child I used to hate my hometown, I would hear people saying they wanted to move away and go somewhere exciting and I used to agree. Now I feel quite the opposite… Here i’ll stay.