Peter Mitchell

Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors looks at the domestic interior in British Photography. It takes as its starting point three of the most important bodies of work by Bill Brandt: his first book, appropriately entitled The English at Home (1935), his documentation of poverty in northern England, and his pioneering domestic nudes. It explores the parametres of these bodies of work: from documentary to fiction, realism to something more surreal. This historical engagement suggests that to understand contemporary depictions of the home there is much to learn in exploring a lineage that extends from Bill Brandt through the crucial years of Picture Post magazine (Kurt Hutton, Burt Hardy) and on to more conceptual strategies since the 1970s. It ends with some of the most important work of recent years, the devasting series, Small Town Inertia, by Jim Mortram.

The photographers include Cecil Beaton, Bill Brandt, Anna Fox, Ken Grant, Bert Hardy, Nick Hedges, Kurt Hutton, Colin Jones, Karen Knorr, Daniel Meadows, Peter Mitchell, Jim Mortram, John Myers, David Moore, Martin Parr, Polly Penrose, Jo Spence.

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Modern Nature. Photographs from the Hyman Collection

Exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield, 2018-2019.

Drawn from the collection of Claire and James Hyman, which comprises more than 3,000 photographs ranging from conceptual compositions to documentary-style works, Modern Nature included around 60 photographs taken since the end of the Second World War, through the beginnings of de-industrialisation to the present day. It explored the merging of urban and rural landscapes, the rapid expansion of cities and the increasingly intrusive management of the countryside. Rather than present a Romantic dichotomy between the rural and the urban, the exhibition presented a more contemporary sensibility that is frequently situated in the edgelands, the often scruffy margins, in which town blurs with countryside.

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Sign of the Times. Word and Image in British Photography

Photographs in the Hyman Collection collection allow one to explore the use of word and image in British Photogtraphy and allow one to chart a number of strategies by which text is used to provide a commentary on what is shown or to deepen its meaning. At its most pobvious text may indicate a time or place but frequently it introduces an additional dimension whether it be humour, social commentary, political engagement or semiotic concerns. Initially embedded within the picture, by the 1970s text was increasingly used to accompany the image, often screenprinted beneath it, to direct the viewer's response to what is shown in ways that may be humorous but are often subversive, ironic, satirical or polemical.

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Natural Selection

As well as exploring the rural life of the village and countryside, many British photographers have explored nature and addressed the natural environment. At times these depictions are mundane, and at other times nostalgic, romanticised, political and personal.

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