1pm, every day of the week, nearly 600 bingo halls across the
UK open their doors to thousands of loyal customers. But, although
they can be found on almost every British high street, surprisingly
few people ever see what goes on inside.
In Bingo & Social Club, photographer Michael Hess opens up
this world to a new audience. Behind the often crumbling exteriors,
he finds vibrant places full of strong characters, quirky details
and more than a hint of nostalgia. In his own words: I want
people to feel that theyve spent a night at the bingo
to sense what it feels like to be there.
Michael explains how the project started. I played bingo
one night in 2005, just out of curiosity about what went on inside
the big old converted cinema near my house. I was instantly fascinated
by the characters. And so the next time I visited, I took my camera.
4 years and more than 60 bingo halls later I was ready to make
Bingo & Social Club.
Michael Hess and Maxine Gallagher spent many nights in the clubs,
playing bingo, chatting with the managers and customers, and collecting
stories from the people they met. They wanted to find out who
these people really were. Bingo halls are not just about
gambling; theyre about human beings. They really do act
as social hubs for many communities.
Jack, the manager of a bingo club in Newcastle, forms the backbone
of the book. Hes quite a character tough and
yet extremely dignified and I knew straight away he could
add the extra dimension I was looking for. Ive always been
inspired by classic movies, and he suited the enigmatic lead role
may have killed the cat, but if it weren't for German-born-but-London-based
photographer Michael Hess's inquisitiveness, the world would,
in our humble opinion, be a poorer place"
Book review by Suzy Prince, Nude Magazine
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