“The new interest in street photography over the last decade and a half is perhaps the single biggest global movement photography has seen in its 170-year history,” says Nick Turpin, creative director of Street London, the third annual edition of the festival dedicated to street photography, taking place at D&AD’s new east London space from 17 to 19 August.
The three-day event, hosted by Hoxton Mini Press, includes guest speakers, shoots, panel talks and, of course, a street party on the Saturday night. There is also an opportunity for photographers to pitch for a 10-minute slot on stage, the Spotlight sessions, where 12 successful applicants will present their projects to an audience for constructive feedback. The theme for discussion this year revolves around how street photography is being redefined by photographers who have emerged from other backgrounds, including photojournalism, art photography and portraiture and how this has influenced them today. There is also a conscious view to look to contemporary expressions of genre.
In the UK nobody lives more than 72 miles from the sea, and the seaside is entrenched in our culture because of it. “The coastline is significant to Brits whether we live there, or not,” says Simon Roberts, who lives in the seaside town of Brighton, and who has returned to the coast again and again in his work. Now his images are appearing in an exhibition called The Great British Seaside at the National Maritime Museum this spring, alongside work by David Hurn, Martin Parr and the late Tony Ray-Jones.
Merrie Albion: Landscape Studies of a Small Island is a concise compendium of Britain over the past few years and is an excellent visual survey of the run-up to Brexit. The photographs examine rich and complex variations of Britain that are now even more poignant after last year’s vote. Images of election campaigning in clean and tidy suburbia, protests, the aftermath of riots in London, diamond jubilee celebrations, rock concerts, a family enjoying Brighton beach, computer screens of the trading floor of Lloyds – the list goes on. Roberts has managed to capture all the major events in juxtaposition with minor situations that are large with meaning, from the dead of the Iraq war being saluted by Army veterans through Wootton Bassett to an depiction of impoverished mothers and children at a youth club in Blackburn. Contained within each photograph are mini dramas, cheap-looking high streets with pound shops set against Victorian architecture. Roberts shows a Britain at odds with itself. Rather than a harmonious society, we sense fragmentation and awkwardness and a yearning for a glorious past that never existed.