Frank Soo

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This is a constructed photographic image that re-imagines the life of Frank Soo.

Through this process of re-imagination we can question established histories and present alternative viewpoints that confront and contrast with existing accepted narratives. We question how history is constructed to obscure or even airbrush certain things – people, events – completely out of our social reality allowing entry only on the terms dictated by conventional norms and narratives.

We can also explore whether photographs can ever be objective representations and question the veracity of the photographic medium and it’s uneasy relationship with the real or reality.

This is also an exploration of identity and representation within the context of the British Chinese community. Many minorities are denied a balanced representation and at times even the most basic recognition and this silencing shapes or even denies their place in our collective social and cultural history.

Frank Soo was a true pioneer of English football representing England 9 times between 1942-1945 also playing 326 club games between 1933-1950 of which 173 were for top-flight club Stoke City where he was made club captain in 1938. Frank also served in the Royal Air Force in the Second World War and captained the RAF football team during this period.

Born in Derbyshire in 1914 Frank had a English mother and Chinese father and is still the only British Chinese footballer ever to represent England.

Frank Soo’s legacy does not match his career achievements and as such the British Chinese community have been denied what should be an established role model but recognition for Frank’s life and career has begun to gain momentum.

This work is also a personal exploration of Allan O’Neill’s own identity and was in part inspired by a book called The Wanderer: The story of Frank Soo (2016) written by author Susan Gardiner.

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