Joanne Coates is a working-class visual artist working in the medium of photography who lives and works across the North East of England. Her work explores rurality, hidden histories and inequalities relating to low income through photography, installations, and audio. Coates uses photography to question the concepts of power, identity, wealth, and poverty, by exploring the social histories of land, gender, and class to narrate stories that have long been forgotten – or simply never told.
This exhibition and research builds on themes around class, gender, inequality and the rural explored in Coates’ previous exhibitions Daughters of the Soil and The Lie of the Land. As before, Coates will collaborate with participants to explore parallels between people and places, the exhibition will delve into questions around climate change, the cost of living crisis, disparities of wealth and the impact on low-income communities.
Participation and working with communities are an important aspect of Coates’ work, and in 2022 she was announced the winner of the Jerwood/Photoworks award. Following this , Coates collaborated with 12 women identifying as working-class to produce the timely exhibition, The Lie of the Land. Coates produced a series of portraits that represented the individual lived experience of the women, within the rural and agricultural setting.
Over the years Coates has worked with various groups and organisations to investigate themes of class, inequalities, rurality, and community cohesion. Whilst in residence at The Maltings and in collaboration with Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) and institute for Creative Arts Practice, she developed Daughters of the Soil which explored the role of women in agriculture in Northumberland and the Scottish Boarders.