Mark Neville. Deeds not words

The project Deeds Not Words was created between 2010-2012 and aims to effect a real policy change regarding land reclamation, and alter attitudes towards the disposal and management of toxic waste in the UK. The book deals specifically with a court case that was brought up in Corby, by a group of families affected by the toxic waste following the reclamation of the towns steel works in the 1980s.

Neville made a point of not commercially distributing the book. It was only sent out to the 433 local authorities in the UK, and to environmental agencies internationally. The book makes a statement by not being only a photo book, but half of the book titled ‘Words not Deeds’ tells a brief history of the steel history, and the exploration of the identify of the migrant scottish workers in the industry, and a detailed account of the Corby case, including scienfific evidence linking the chemical pollutants and birth defects.040-madisons-nightclub-2010

The book contains 60 photographs, but they dont all directly address the point. They look at the whole community, how the scottish identity continues through third and fourth generations, and the different varitations of beauty. Beauty is shown through events, such as the beauty contest, girls in a night club, children dressed up.

Two indviduals who were involved in the court case, two males whom were born with fingers missing. They are both shown in the same set up, with different coloured balloons. It clearly presents the loss of a finger, through the contrast of colour against the balloon, and the balloon bursting could suggest how his life was not controlled by him, but by the affects of the environmental toxins.


The bok was exhibited at the Photographers’ Gallery, London in 2013, accompained by work orgainsed by ‘ClientEarth’, which then led to the creation of a manifesto which was presented to Parliment.

What strikes me about this project, is not the work, as the photography reminds me of that from Julian Germain’s Steel Works which i previously looked at, but the intentions. Many works i have looked at simply address the situation through photographs, it allows people to see what is happening to communities and the enviornment. But this project directly addresses the people who can make the change, the government, and those who have been affected and raise the cases. That is what is so powerful about the body of work. I think it is important to consider the use of your work before you make it, as if you pick the right intention it could become a body of work that creates change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s