Helena: Every Day Is A Morning After

Young woman sat on a doorstep

Friday 16 October - Monday 16 November 2020

We are proud to present Helena: Every Day Is A Morning After created by documentarian Jim Mortram as an exhibition film of his body of work Every Day Is A Morning After. The film is part of Photo Oxford 2020 and supported by Oxford Brookes University. Mortram has been working on the long form documentation for the past ten years and posting images of Helena and her testimony on his website www.smalltowninertia.co.uk

This film is a distillation of Helena's experience and acts as a trailer for future exhibitions featuring Mortram's work and the themes addressed through his images and storytelling. It has been created specifically for Photo Oxford 2020 and to be shown via the Oxford Brookes University, The Glass Tank gallery space website, and was commissioned by Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Grant Scott.

“I was 15 and he was 19, 20. We started to meet up for a while, and most of the time, four out of five days he was fine and then the next moment he’d just turn. He did tell me he was on very strong anti-depressant pills and they affected him big time, so he often did not like to take them.”

“I’d saved some money for a tattoo and I just thought I’d have a drink, y’know, treat myself, have a laugh but it did not really turn out like that. I’d got this text in the middle of the night to go and see this girl for a bit and I said ‘Yeah, I can do’ but mum said ‘No, she’s trouble, you’re staying in.’ So, there was a huge argument and I threw a bit of a wobbly and basically, I never meant for anything to happen, I just did it.” Helena.

Jim Mortram
Jim Mortram is a British social documentary photographer and writer, based in Dereham, Norfolk in the East of England. His ongoing project, Small Town Inertia, records the lives of a number of disadvantaged and marginalised people living near to his home, in order to tell stories, he believes are under-reported. His photographs and writing are published on his website and have been published by Café Royal Books in 2013, and in the book Small Town Inertia published by Bluecoat Press in 2017.

Mortram began the Small Town Inertia website in 2006 with the “Market Town” stories. Its name is a reference to the market town of Dereham, where he lives, fifteen miles west of the city of Norwich in Norfolk. Through photography, his writing and the subject’s own words, Mortram records the lives of the disadvantaged and marginalised, making repeated visits with a number of people living within three miles of his home. Small Town Inertia tells stories of “isolation, poverty, drug abuse, homelessness, self-harm, mental illness, juvenile crime, and epilepsy”, that Mortram believes are otherwise under-reported. 

Dave Stelfox wrote in The Guardian that “Mortram’s rich, black-and-white images possess a timeless quality that invites easy comparison with the classic documentary work of such British photographers as Chris Steele Perkins, Paul Trevor and Chris Killip.”

Grant Scott: Curator
Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Focal Press 2014) and The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Focal Press 2015). His book New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2019. He also presents the weekly A Photographic Life podcast.