This major exhibition looks at the relationship between photography and the British seaside from the 1850s to the present. Images of the beach, hotel life, the holiday camp, dressing up and dressing down, wild waves, and coastlines all combine to create a rich picture of British resorts.
As well as featuring the work of respected photographers including Jane Bown, Henri Cartier Bresson, Vanley Burke, Anna Fox, Susan Hiller, Paul Nash, Martin Parr, and Ingrid Pollard, the curators have included rich and often unknown work from across photography’s history, including Raymond Lawson’s remarkable chronicle of family life in Whitstable.
Daniel Meadows, Barry Lewis, and Dafydd Jones all photographed at Butlins in the 1970s and Grace Robertson records the raucous goings-on of a women’s day out to the coast in the 1950s. Enzo Ragazzini captures the anarchy of the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, while Stuart Griffiths makes a bleak narrative of the 1990 rave scene in Brighton. Composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears, partners in music and in life, created a haven by the sea that they preserved in photographs.
Since the beginnings of the medium, photographers have been fascinated by the shoreline and seaside cultures. Seaside: Photographed offers a record of how both British and international image-makers have responded to the UK’s coastal communities since 1850 and how the art of photography has both shaped and exposed the multiple layers of the seaside resort.
From the roaring waves of the 19th century through the heyday of the classic seaside resort in the 1950s and 60s, and the critical reportage of the 1980s and 1990s, to the more intimate work of the last ten years, many photographers have worked at the British seaside. The end-of-the-pier show, beauty competitions, light entertainment, the seaside boarding house, the holiday camp, combined to give British seaside resorts the brash and colorful image that is now enshrined in British national mythology. Seaside: Photographed shows not only some of the most spectacular and incisive photographic work from the 1850s to the present, but provides a place of shared connection, of collective memory, and a space where memories and perceptions are challenged.
Curated by Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson, Seaside: Photographed is a touring exhibition organized by Turner Contemporary.
The exhibition was presented at Turner Contemporary in summer 2019, touring to three other UK venues in 2020/21, each with their own unique connection to the seaside:
John Hansard Gallery, Southampton: 31 Oct 2020 – 23 Jan 2021
Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange: 13 Feb – 5 Jun 2021
Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool: 26 Jun – 4 Sep 2021
Take a virtual tour of current exhibition at John Hansard Gallery:
With support from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.
Seaside: Photographed is also a book published by Thames & Hudson.