Three Photographers From Britain - Nothing But Class

01 © Chris Killip / Helen with Hula-Hoop, Seacoal Beach, Lynemouth, Northumberland, 1983 Courtesy of the artist and RoseGallery

LON29325 © Martin Parr / Bristol Grammer School, 1988 Courtesy of the artist and RoseGallery

44© Graham Smith / Bennetts Corner (Giro Corner), South Bank, Middlesbrough, 1982 Courtesy of the artist and RoseGallery

Last weekend a new exhibit opened at the Rose Gallery with
Three Photographers From Britain and the show is not only a diverse collection steeped in a collective portrait of the diverse social strata of the UK in the 70’s and 80’s, it is a reprise of a show that last exhibited at MOMA in 1990.

Now, Martin Parr is quite visible these days in the art world, as well as a busy assignment photographer for Magnum and Chris Killip works as a professor at Harvard.

36 © Graham Smith / Blackhill, Consett, County Durham, 1976Courtesy of the artist and RoseGallery

But the work of Graham Smith has a very poignant story and history behind it.
The photos were taken in his fathers pub, and the town he lived in. This access to the lives of the people there as a part of them, only adds to the emotional impact.
He served them the beers. He turned the music on in the bar they danced in.

On first viewing, it reminded me of Brassai’s Paris at night series, with an intimacy that had the raw honesty of Larry Clark’s Tulsa. Like Clark, only a photographer woven into the fabric of the environment could reveal these moments.

Apologies for using other imagery to help describe what is being shown, but perhaps it will draw you to the gallery site to have a look. And if you are not familiar with the other bodies of work, you’ll be tempted to click on those as well. We’re all about opening another door.

This intimate portrait has not been seen since 1990. Even if you find the catalog, you’ll only see 4 images.

I spoke with him at a panel talk the other two gentlemen gave at LACMA on Sunday night.

Mr. Smith discussed the most heartfelt and honest reasoning for why these images will not be seen much past this show at the ROSE gallery.

He felt that unless he contacted the folks from the images, and then compensated them specifically from any proceeds from book sales, plus the fact that some of them may not want their images published in book form, they have not been widely seen. He has been reticent about doing more with the images out of respect for the subjects. That’s why you won’t see the images of the people here on our site. Go to the Rose Gallery site and have a look. At ALL of the work.

In addition he no longer makes photographs. Not since 1990. A woodworking business takes care of his family and keeps him busy 12-16 hours a day.Plus writing has giving him the creative outlet he needs.

During the panel discussion, Chris Killip was able to verbalize something that I’ve been feeling all weekend. When you walk around a gallery, especially at an opening , you are not really spending the quality time with the work.
There is nothing like sitting at home, possibly putting on a fire, beverage at hand, and truly looking at a body of work in the form of a book. It doesn’t matter whether you look at it from back to front or front to back. You may just come upon an image that touches you.

But this act of relaxed concentration on the images can not be duplicated in a gallery. Or won’t be. I’ve found the gallery experience is perfect to give a sense of a print. Nothing like seeing a beautiful print in person. So many times, I leave with a book or catalogue of the exhibit to peruse in the comfort of my home. The mental image of the print in person is still locked in the brain, and gets filled in with the book in hand.

So…..if you are in Los Angeles, get down to the Rose Gallery in Bergamot Station. If not, go to the website and have a look around.

Maybe get that beverage and take a closer, longer look at the work.


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