An exhibition by Open Eye Gallery/ Tracy Marshall for the Pingyao Photography Festival (at the Diesel Engine Factory) 2018 and then exhibited as part of the Look PhotoBiennial, Liverpool, UK, at Williamson Art Gallery September 2019.
Distinctly brings together significant bodies of work by 10 of the most impactful photographers working in Britain over the last half century. Each photographer, whilst taking a unique approach to their depiction of aspects of British life and its communities, shares a sense of immersion and commitment to the regions photographed. At a moment when photography seems polarised between the brevity of digital media and a more sustained sense of collaboration, this survey engages with work by young photographers establishing their own response to regions they are committed to and places that work in conversation with important series made in Britain by more established practitioners.
From Robert Darch’s account of rural traits and agriculture in the Southwest, to Kirsty Mackay’s work with those now living in the streets of her Glasgow childhood, the exhibition draws on the diverse communities and topographies Britain accommodates. Daniel Meadows, offers street portraiture made across a Britain he explored in a converted double-decker bus in the 1970s –a project completed when he sought out the same subjects a few decades later. Niall McDiarmid’s contemporary work continues that tradition of street portraiture, as he journeys across Britain to build a growing inventory of colour, style and personality. John Myers portraits from the Midlands have only recently been published for the first time, an important account of the suburban experience in the1970s, whilst Tish Murtha and Ken Grant both draw on an intimate knowledge of their own culture in Northeast and Northwest of England. Chris Killip’s photographs, taken over more than a decade, bring together work from long-term series he made in the industrial Northeast, across several political eras, to establish a subjective narrative that is a landmark in the photobook’s development and the exhibiting of photography in Britain.
The exhibition is completed by Martin Parr’s Bad Weather, an innovative response to our preoccupations with the weather and, perhaps in counterbalance, Marketa Luskacova’s photographs of street musicians. The series she began a young mother walking the markets of London’s East End, seems to outweigh its topic as a profound and dignified noting of those who make music in the street and, like so many of those featured in this exhibition, manage to find their own ways to make their way in Britain, as if their very lives depend on it.
Robert Darch Ken Grant Chris Killip Marketa Luskacova Kirsty MacKay Niall McDiarmid Daniel Meadows Tish Murtha John Myers Martin Parr