13 Questions with Urban Goals collector, Michael Kirkham

Michael Kirkham has been working on his Urban Goals project for a few years now. A curious slice of social commentary and a nod to the innovation of youth.

Michael Kirkham has been a fixture of the Liverpool photo community, regularly shooting gigs, weddings, street and landscapes.

But his Urban Goals project is the one, perhaps, we enjoy the most. It’s a long running series and it’s always a joy when he posts a new addition to the project on Twitter or Facebook.

They reflect a common denominator, where all are equal. Yet, at the same time they also mark out the lack of privilege and the ingenuity required, simply to exist on a functioning level.

Each photo tells a story and the project as a whole is a fascinating document of life, social structure, innocence, fun and the world we live in.

We fired off our 13 Questions to find out a bit more.

Short Strand, Belfast

Where are you and what are you doing?
Sitting at the kitchen table answering these questions drinking coffee and contemplating the big questions of life. Always contemplating the big questions of life.

What is your favourite view?
I’ve many I guess but one that always makes me smile is the view from the train as you pull into Lime St (Liverpool) and see the rooftops of Wavertree and Toxteth. I know I’m nearly home and back to my happy place (this city).

Poplar, London

We know you as a photographer in general (gigs and the like), but your series of Urban Goals has been running for a while. Tell us about how it started and what attracted you to these images.
It started with a goal in Granby (Toxteth) and wondering how a postcode can affect someone’s hopes and aspirations in life. I liked the idea of telling that through an image framed as simply as a goal painted onto a wall. The repetition of those images across the UK is quite telling, I think.

Is there any particular message you’re seeking to get out there with these pictures?
Hopefully to tell a story of a side of Britain left neglected. The forgotten council estates and all those who live in them. Maybe that’s too grandiose, as others just see goals daubed on walls and the nostalgia of that, but to highlight how people and places are left behind by our society was always part of the point of it.

Longsight, Manchester

Is there an image, or other piece of art, you wish you were the one who had created it? Which one?
Any and all of Don McCullin’s work! You could say his work is the single biggest influence on why I became a photographer. If I had to pick just one it would be his “Shell Shocked Marine” image. Incredible photojournalism.

If you could go to a show (art, music, play or whatever) right now, anywhere in the world, which artist would you see? And in which venue?
Don McCullin’s show at Tate Liverpool, naturally. My girlfriend bought us tickets but lockdown three hit the day before we were due to go. Fingers crossed I get to see it still.

Claughton, Birkenhead

Who are your artistic influences?
Stanley Kubrick, Banksy, Don McCullin, Barbara Hepworth, Spike Lee, Dianne Arbus, William Klein, Tim Hetherington, Henry Moore and Irvine Welsh are all huge influences on my work. I take influences from hip hop and graffiti culture too. But the protest movement in general is probably my biggest single influence.

What’s for breakfast in your place? Who would you invite to share it with you?
If I’m being good it’s porridge, banana and honey. If I’m being bad it’s a triple decker bacon and egg on toast. But my favourite breakfast is smashed avocado, poached egg and hot sauce on a nice sourdough bread. A once weekly treat. I would invite Louis Theroux if I could, love his documentaries and he likes hip hop! We’d have plenty to talk about over breakfast and coffee.

Barrow

Tell us something we don’t know.
I’ll have to let you down, here. I’m pretty sure everything I know you all do already!

Which city do you recommend we visit – and why?
That would have to be Buenos Aires. The architecture, art, food, drink and people make it such an incredible place to be. Medellin, Colombia is a close 2nd for the same reasons.

Camberwell, London

What’s your drink of choice?
Non alcoholic is coffee. Alcoholic drink would be a nice glass of red wine.

What’s next for Michael Kirkham?
Still hoping for a book on the Urban Goals series. Some exhibitions this year, Covid permitting. And the continuation of my personal work. But first, lunch!

Baltic Triangle, Liverpool

Do you have anything else to declare?
It wasn’t me.

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