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See British life through a foreign lens in Barbican photography show

PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 March 2016

GB. ENGLAND. London. Baker Street underground station. 1958-1959.

GB. ENGLAND. London. Baker Street underground station. 1958-1959.

©Sergio Larrain / Magnum Photos

Iconic British photographer Martin Parr has curated a revealing show about his native country – as seen through the lenses of his international colleagues.

GREAT BRITAIN. England. London. 12 May 1937.
Waiting in Trafalgar Square for the coronation parade of King George VI.GREAT BRITAIN. England. London. 12 May 1937. Waiting in Trafalgar Square for the coronation parade of King George VI.

Strange and Familiar reveals how our social, cultural and political identity have been viewed by some of the leading lights in 20th and 21st century photography including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Garry Winogrand and Robert Frank

Himself described as ‘a chronicler of our age’ Parr hopes the exhibition at The Barbican Art Gallery reveals “a very different take on British life than that produced by British photographers. It is both familiar and strange at the same time.”

From social documentary and street photography to portraiture and architectural photography each of the 23 photographers records characteristics of UK life in their own inimicable style.

Edith Tudor-Hart’s images of East End poverty and Tyneside slum housing in the interwar years are in marked contrast to Cartier-Bresson’s of the celebratory spirit of King George VI’s coronation in May 1937 (pictured left)

Stark differences between urban and rural life can be seen in Frank Habicht’s views of the swinging sixties, Robert Frank’s images of the South Wales coal mining communities, Paul Strand’s essay on the Outer Hebrides in the mid 1950s and Sergio Larrain’s views of London (see right Baker Street station 1958) at a moment of dramatic dynamic change.

In later decades the Japanese photojournalist Akihiko Okamura and French photographer Gilles Peress both completed revelatory studies of the Northern Ireland conflict from barricades to Orange parades and bombed out streets.

Britain as revealed by International Photographers runs until June 19. barbican.org.uk


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