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In 1996, Tom Wood was commissioned by the Manchester-based Documentary Photography Archive (DPA) to photograph Cammell Laird, the Birkenhead shipyard that had closed to shipbuilding three years earlier. The success of Wood’s application was based on his existing photographic project of Cammell Laird, and an earlier DPA commission to record Rainhill’s psychiatric hospital (1988-90). Both bodies of work are currently held in the Archive. In 2013, artist Cian Quayle organised for these commissions to be shown at Contemporary Art Space Chester (CASC) on the Art & Design campus at Chester’s University.
Titled DPA Work, the two exhibitions incorporated contextual documentation – some of it drawn from the Wirral Archives Service in Birkenhead – and instigated Colin Simpson, Principal Museums Officer at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, to show the Cammell Laird project in Birkenhead. Simpson presented the exhibition, Tom Wood: Cammell Laird 1993-1996, in two distinct hangings, the first following a similar strategy in its play between contextual documentation and Wood’s photographs. This was complemented by a companion exhibition in the adjoining gallery space of an on-going project by Quayle that interweaves photographs, film and documents.