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© The Artist

Two works from the Beyond Caring series, 1984-86

Paul Graham (b. 1956)

Held at the threshold

  • Medium:
    C-type colour prints
  • Dimensions:
    Each 28 × 35.5 cm
  • Collection:
    Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London
  • Coll. No:
    ACP 1772, ACP 1767

Paul Graham’s Beyond Caring series documents the waiting rooms of Social security and unemployment offices across the UK in the mid-1980s. Following the severe recession of 1981, the UK suffered record rates of unemployment. The crowded waiting rooms highlight an overburdened welfare system in which many people faced long waiting times without any guarantee of progress. Graham captures these waiting rooms as in-between-liminal spaces, his photographs foregrounding the powerlessness of those stuck in the system.

Individual artwork titles from left to right:

Waiting Room, Highgate Office, North London, 1984

Baby and interview cubicles, Brixton DHSS, South London, 1984