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The Burnthouse Lane estate was first dreamt up by Exeter Council in the idealistic 1920s to rehouse impoverished people from the West Quarter slum. Designed along Garden City lines and purposely self-contained it was a place for working-class families to live. In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme meant that some of the properties became privately owned, but Burnt House Lane is still referred to as a council estate. The deprivation it was supposed to overcome has continued to haunt it, but the isolated nature of the estate and its intricate labyrinth of lanes, have also made for positives, such as a close-knit community and a sense of solidarity among the residents.

Michelle Sank has developed an international reputation for her powerful environmental portraits and landscapes. She has published four previous books and has exhibited widely across the world. Her work is in many private collections. Born in South Africa, Michelle Sank settled in the UK in 1987. She grew up during Apartheid and is the daughter of Latvian immigrants. She cites this background as informing her interest in sub-cultures and the exploration of contemporary social issues and challenges. Her crafted portraits and landscapes meld place and person creating sociological, visual and psychological narratives. 

The world-renowned photographer David Goldblatt wrote about her portraiture that there is “an unstrained yet visually sophisiticated synthesis of subject and context… people are not typecast or stereotyped; they are just ‘ordinary’. They seem completely themselves, Sank has allowed each of them simply to be … something has been evoked that seems to come from deep within… it is the unique spirit of the other person”.

£35.00 quarter bound hardback
78 colour plates
120 pages, 245mm x 280mm
ISBN: 978-1-916915-05-3