Small Town Inertia is a photography project and exhibition by Jim Mortram. A must see at the Side Gallery in Newcastle.

“For over eight years J A Mortram has been photographing the lives of people in his home community of Dereham, a small town in Norfolk. His photography explores the everyday lives of people struggling to survive in an era of welfare cuts, diminished local government resources and an overburdened health sector. Jim’s work covers challenging subjects such as physical and mental health, isolation, addiction and self-harm, but is done so with compassion, understanding and friendship. Published as a book in 2017, Small Town Inertiais a firm rebuttal of the cheap political rhetoric, ‘we are all in this together’.”

It comprised of powerful and moving narratives, of individuals Jim got to know closely, building up trust so he could share their stories and injustice. As divides continue to grow, it is more important than ever to see work such as this, to remind us that many communities are on the front line of austerity.

Black and white image featuring an old man sat at a table with a small dog sat on the sofa to the right of him.

We all have the right to fairness, respect and basic human rights such as warmth and food. So why the growing divide? And why is this a problem for such a forward moving country and society? We are dealing with austerity, cuts to the weakest over the strongest, social isolation, and social judgement of others. Many people do not get to choose how they live. Sometimes, it’s about survival, and we have no choice.


Each set of images had an accompanying narrative, which made it an emotionally fuelled exhibit. The project gives real reflection on society, reflection on our own contributions and how we can always do more. We need more Jim’s in the world! Telling much needed stories to push for change.

Gallery wall featuring 6 black and white abstract images of people.

From this, we pledge to always be open-minded, have empathy, listen to others stories and empower positive change where we can.


It reminded us why Sail focuses on work with positive social impact. We continue to work with communities and audiences to grow brands: collecting stories, empathy and connection to build movements. We pledge to continue this journey, building brands around stories and empathy, building brands with meaning at their root.


We pledge to design with integrity, with audiences in mind to grow movements and followers, which collectively, will impact change. Brands cannot change the world, but they can contribute small influences by building emotional connection and sending out authentic messages and stories with meaning. That is a brands duty.