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New Art Gallery Walsall
4th April to 1st June 2008
Ming Jue is a reference to the re-branding of MG Rover since its move from the Longbridge plant in Birmingham to the new site for production in Nanjing, China. Originally “Morris Garages”, MG now translates as “Modern Gentleman”
Stuart Whipps began to document the MG Rover plant in Longbridge in 2004. In 2005, the 6,000+ staff were informed of its temporary closure. Most never came back. What started as an attempt to explore the relationships between the factory, the workers and the town, became a poignant study of absence and change.
The production of MG Rover has now been transferred to Nanjing, China and Stuart has photographed the rapidly developing site. This exhibition brings together photographs of both the Longbridge and Nanjing plants.
Though relating to a very specific context Stuart’s photographs present a timely commentary on familiar contemporary issues such as the development of a globalised economy, the decline of heavy industry in the Western world and shifts in centres of industrial production. Importantly, his work is testimony to the implications of these changes in human terms. His photographs, though never didactic, hint at loss, betrayal and the disintegration of communities.