Benny Profane

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


In the early 1990s, the MP for Birkenhead Frank Field was amongst the first in Britain to use the term Underclass to talk about a former working-class culture that no longer followed the routines that term suggested. For nearly a decade, Ken Grant photographed the dockland on the East Wirral side of the river Mersey, following the use of the Bidston Moss incinerator and the tip for economic support and sustainability. The photographs of this area are singular in their consistent engagement of one space and differ in their emphasis from previous works made in the area. The text, a personal account, departs from the authoritarian nature of documentary practices that remain dominated by the ‘detached observer’. The book foregrounds the integrity within post-working-class culture, merging image and text in a form that adapts Bas Vroege’s notion of multivocal documentary towards a new narrative form. Benny Profane is an immersed and unique engagement with a group of men who used the area as an unofficial and unsanctioned resource. The photographic work itself, began in 1989 and continued into the late 1990s, with continued engagement in the area continuing to the present day. Long form engagement was necessary to the veracity of the process and - beyond the purposefully slow editing of the series over two decades- the final sequencing, the final editing decisions around the work have been made in the last four years. This publication is made up of unseen and unpublished work, with the exception of 4 photographs – 2 published in a wider feature in Reportage Magazine in 1991 (photographs in the publication on page 74 and 76) and two which have been included in wider surveys of the photographer’s work (pages 45 and 48). This series was published for the first time in 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherRRB Publishing
Number of pages88
ISBN (Print)9781999727574
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019


  • Photography and class
  • dockland communities
  • north of England
  • photography and communities
  • working class culture
  • black economies
  • Documentary photography
  • Storytelling
  • Representation
  • representations of young men
  • Recession
  • representation and the underclass


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