Talking Picture no. 25: Charlie Sutton — Daniel Meadows

This Thursday I will be releasing the fourth book in the series of eight stories by Daniel Meadows Weldone Boiler Fluers 1976-1977. These eight are from the larger series of 40 that Daniel is releasing weekly until summer, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Free Photographic Omnibus; each a small part of his archive, held at the Library of Birmingham. Charlie Sutton.

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Talking Picture no. 21: Stanley Graham — Daniel Meadows

Stanley Graham and his engine, ideas for a 'well balanced life' and avoiding stress. Excellent, my favourite so far from the Daniel Meadows Archive (Library of Birmingham, catalogue no: MS 2765). I'm publishing this Thursday Bancroft Shed Engine House 1976, by Daniel Meadows. More of Stanley and the engine then...

Talking Picture no. 21: Stanley Graham — Daniel Meadows 03_stanley_thumbnail

Talking Picture no. 16: George Hepple — Daniel Meadows

George Hepple, a retired blacksmith from Haltwhistle, as featured in  Living Like This (Meadows, Daniel. 1975. Living Like This: Around Britain in the Seventies. London: Arrow.) . The Daniel Meadows Archive is in the Library of Birmingham.

Talking Picture no. 16: George Hepple hepple_thumbnail

Talking Picture no. 23: Bessie Dickinson — Daniel Meadows

Following from the release of last week's movie and book, from Bancroft Shed by Daniel Meadows, this week is a movie shot a year earlier, 1975 in Burnley. Still weaving, but perhaps the language of weaving in many ways. Talking Picture no. 23: Bessie Dickinson bessie_wide_thumbnail

Talking Picture no. 21: For Stanley — Daniel Meadows

Talking Picture no. 21: For Stanley, a movie made by Daniel Meadows about Stanley Graham who worked in a weaving mill in Barnoldswick, Lancashire. The movie, a part of the entire Daniel Meadows Archive, is held at the Library of Birmingham. 02_bancroft_weaving_shed

This movie coincides with the second in a series of eight books I'm publishing with Daniel. The book, Bancroft Shed Weaving 1976, will be published and available this Thursday morning (19.02.15) from the Café Royal Books website. Bacroft Shed Weaving 1976 — Daniel Meadows

You can follow Daniel's movies on Vimeo.

Daniel Meadows

Those of you who have been following this new site so far, and those who find it in the future, will see that I've been posting movies by Daniel Meadows each week, as they're released. Each offers a window into his archive which is now held at the Library of Birmingham. During the first half of 2015 I'm publishing eight books and a limited edition box set. Each book is the subject of one of Daniel's movies and the box set contains the eight corresponding movies on DVD, as well as the books. The 40 movies are being released now, over 40 weeks to celebrate the 40th year since The Free Photographic Omnibus project which Daniel began in 1972.

I asked Daniel whether he could write a short backstory for this blog; I'm always interested in 'why' and 'how' people do what they do. Daniel has also written a short text to accompany each of the eight movies and the eight books we'll be releasing this year, the first of which was January and the next being this Thursday, February 19th 2015.

I'm sure you'll enjoy Daniel's writing below. Please visit and subscribe to his movies on his Vimeo page. Please also revisit this post, where I will add images and links to the 'new' movies as they become available.

 

Beginnings

Here's how I remember why I became a documentary photographer.

It was the summer of 1970, I was eighteen years old and in my final year at a west country boarding school. It was a mean-spirited place and my five years there had been grim, degrading even. With so many petty cruelties handed down each day, I'd learned only about the compliance of fear.

With just weeks to go before my release and sure only of what I did not know, I was fizzing. With rage, yes, but also with an insatiable curiosity to know about people whose lives were other than my own. I knew no one working class, no one black or brown, and – outside of my own family – no women.

There's a documentary from 1969, Beautiful, Beautiful a BBC Omnibus programme. I looked it out recently, an old VHS. It shows photographer Bruce Davidson working in Harlem. "People have an innate dignity," he says. "They will set themselves before the camera in a dignified way. And they will choose what they will give." Undoubtedly that film set something playing in my head.

Then, in May 1970, I went to see Bill Brandt's retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in London. Brandt, it hit me, was using his camera as a passport to let him slip, effortlessly it seemed, between the social classes. How I envied him.

For me, going to Manchester that autumn was not just a journey from south to north, it was a removal, out of my own class (good riddance) and into other people's. And there it was, in All Saints, in the photography school on the third floor of a tower block in the newly created polytechnic, that I began to learn how I too might slip between the classes. With dignity.

And I'm still learning.

These Café Royal Editions

In my subsequent photographic career one piece of work in particular, done in 1973-74 aboard the Free Photographic Omnibus, has become well-known. This is largely because of the enthusiasm and energy of writer and curator Val Williams who has long championed the street portraits I made during that time both in exhibitions and in books[1]. However, what is not widely understood is that the "bus portraits", as they have become known, were made as part of a much more comprehensive documentary adventure, something that includes audio recordings, works of photo-reportage, digital stories and short movies; and that it's an adventure which continues to this day.

In 1975, in the last paragraph of my first book Living Like This, I wrote the following about my work. "I hope that everyone who reads these stories will be able to enjoy a snatch of life as it is lived by someone else. For it is only by appreciating each other's circumstances that we can hope to improve our world."[2]

I like that, it's good. I could write the same today and it would still be good.

In my archive, now housed at the Library of Birmingham, are many picture stories which have nothing to do with the bus and which have never been published or, at least, have been published only in part. Here though, in Café Royal editions, a number are being published whole and for the first time. And that's exciting. Also, each edition is accompanied by a short movie online, a Talking Picture, in which the voices of those who appear in the photographs can be heard.

 

These are the stories.

Stockport Gypsies and Travellers

http://vimeo.com/65219653

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In 1971, when we were both nineteen and students at Manchester Polytechnic, Shireen Shah joined me on my visits to Stockport's gypsy and traveller site. She was studying sociology and researching for her dissertation. In 2013 she recalled those trips:

"This was a time when the local councils were meant to be making provision for them [gypsies and travellers] to have a site so they could stop and not be illegal. But many of the councils didn't provide sites. This was one of the few places that they could stop and not be illegal. I called my dissertation Out of Gear.

"They weren't liked. I went with them once to the laundry. They took their washing up to a laundry and one of them explained how you'd never use the same plastic bowl for washing clothes, your lettuce, separate stuff. But you could see that people didn't want them to be coming in."

 

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James Nutter and Sons, Bancroft Shed, Barnoldswick

https://vimeo.com/112802871

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Between 1975 and 1977 I worked as photographer-in-residence to the Borough of Pendle: the towns of Nelson, Colne, Barnoldswick and Earby in north-east Lancashire. Here I made a series of extensive documentary studies. James Nutter and Sons at Bancroft Shed, Barnoldswick was one of these. The last remaining steam powered cotton weaving mill in the district, Bancroft's buildings and machinery were largely unchanged since its construction during the first world war.

 

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The Engine House, Bancroft Shed

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During my time as photographer-in-residence I got to know and, in due course become friends with, Stanley Graham, the steam engineer ('tenter') at Bancroft. Stanley was a key contact, introducing me to his fellow employees in the mill, to the Weldone gang of boiler fluers from Brierfield and to Rochdale steeplejack Peter Tatham. In return, I helped him with his photography and audio recording.

In due course the mill closed and, in 1982, it was demolished. Stanley, who had a passion for history, attended evening classes at Nelson & Colne College and later went on to complete a degree at Lancaster University. During this time he also produced an extraordinary and unrivalled study of workers in the cotton trade, the Lancashire Textile Project (LTP), now housed in the special collections archive of Lancaster University.

In 2004 Stanley was awarded a fieldwork and recording lifetime achievement award by the Association for Industrial Archaeology.

 

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Weldone Boiler Fluers

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Weldone of Brierfield, a family firm of chimney sweeps, cleaned Bancroft's boiler and chimney flues three times every year but, by 1976 when I photographed him, Charlie Sutton, the boss, had had enough.

"I've known every bloody boiler house in this part of the country," he told me, "I've been to hell and back." He was forty-nine and exhausted.

"I have a bad heart. I told Jack [his mate who worked with him inside the boilers], if he comes to me funeral, I want half a bottle o' Bell's puttin' in with me, and me fluin' mask."

In October that year, following the publication of a spread of these pictures in Lancashire Life magazine, a buyer for Weldone was found and Charlie Sutton was able to retire. I'm almost certain that this is the only set of photographs ever done of boiler fluers at work.

 

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Peter Tatham, Steeplejack

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In September 1976 I photographed Rochdale steeplejack, Peter Tatham, first ladder and then demolish the 150 foot (46 metre) chimney of the former Salford city incinerator.

With a hole cut in the chimney's side at the bottom so that rubble could be removed, Peter worked his way down the stack. Sitting astride the wall he took it apart piece by piece, dropping sections of cast iron and brickwork down inside the shaft.

"It's a job like this," he explained. "If you're workin' up there, you need to have done the labourin' job to understand what the labourer's doin' down there and what you want him to do. The first time or two were a bit uncomfortable, 'cos they stuck me up a big 'un down in Rochdale first time, in winter. I got under the head and I came back down again. I couldn't feel me bloody finger ends, you know?"

 

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Pig Killing, North Yorkshire

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In the winter of 1976-77 I visited Old Farm, Little Stainton in north Yorkshire. Here Cyril Richardson and his family reared pigs and, around Christmas, killed them. The hams and flitches were cured, the bacon hammered, rolled and hung up.

In the pictures Cyril is the man sharpening knives. His wife Elsie holds up the lace fat from the belly. Their daughter is Helen, their son-in-law farmer lad Tony Critchley. The butcher is Everett Moor. His assistant (in specs) is Jim Woodhouse. Wearing the ICI coat is Herbert Bray.

"The only thing that's wasted with a pig," said Elsie, "is its squeal."

 

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Welfare State International

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As photographer-in-residence, one of my jobs was to record the work of Welfare State International, based in Burnley.

Formed in 1968 as a collective, Welfare State took art out of the privileged spaces of theatre and gallery, to reach new audiences. Innovators of community art, carnival, fire show spectaculars, lantern festivals and pioneering theatre of all kinds, Welfare State's work has been internationally acclaimed.

"In those days you could get free teeth and free coffins," co-founder John Fox recalled in 2013, "but you couldn't necessarily get free art."

 

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Clayton Ward, Prestwich Hospital, Manchester

Clayton Ward, Prestwich Psychiatric Hospital, Manchester, 1978

These pictures are about mental illness and the beginnings of what we now call 'care in the community'.

In February 1978, I lived for two weeks with twenty long-stay psychiatric patients at Prestwich Hospital in north Manchester. Forgotten souls, most of them had been there for at least as long as I was old. I was twenty-six. Brought together from all over the hospital, these patients were guinea pigs in an experiment.

Encouraged by what psychiatrists had discovered from the application of post-war psychopharmacology and influenced by the behaviour modification theories of B F Skinner and also R D Laing's 'politics of experience', psychologists at Prestwich established Clayton Ward. Here they instigated a token economy scheme.

The objective was to enable patients to live 'out in the community'. First, though, they needed to learn how to behave in ways that would not upset or alarm people 'on the outside'. A necessary prerequisite for a patient's inclusion in this experiment was that he or she should have an addiction, in this case tobacco smoking. 'Good' behaviour — engaging in 'verbal interaction', making your bed, wearing a tie, tucking your shirt in and so on — was rewarded with tokens.

And you needed tokens to buy not just tobacco but also your food and drink.

 

[1] Williams, Val (ed). (1997) National Portraits: Photographs from the 1970s by Daniel Meadows. Salford: Viewpoint Photography Gallery, and Derby: Montage Gallery.

Williams, Val. 2011. Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80sBrighton: Photoworks.

[2] Meadows, Daniel. (1975) . Living Like This: Around Britain in the Seventies. London: Arrow Books.

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All images above ©Daniel Meadows

Talking Picture no. 15: Mrs Boxer Chandler—Daniel Meadows

Talking Picture no. 15: Mrs Boxer Chandler, a movie made by Daniel Meadows held as part of his archive at the Library of Birmingham. boxer_thumbnail

July 1974, Great Washbourne, Gloucestershire. This is the village where I was born and where my father spent his working life as agent to the Dumbleton Estate. I have returned in the Free Photographic Omnibus and am visiting Mrs Boxer, the village's oldest resident.

Daniel Meadows

You can follow Daniel's movies on Vimeo.

 

Talking Picture no. 13: John Payne—Daniel Meadows

This week's movie from the Daniel Meadows Archive, held at the Library of Birmingham.

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April 1974, from the Free Photographic Omnibus. John Payne, aged 12, with two friends and his pigeon Chequer, Portsmouth.

And then there's this painting, named after the pigeon in the film...Hm

Homer Sykes—Biddy Boys Ireland 1972

This week's publication is by Homer Sykes—Biddy Boys Ireland 1972. An edition of 150, 36 pages. I have published several books by Sykes, the First being Blitz Kids, Skins and Silver Spoons. There are three more planned for this year.

From Homer: My first documentary photographs date from the late 1960s, during 1970s – 1990s, my principal commissions in Britain were for what used to be called the "weekend colour supplements" such as The Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Observer, You and the Sunday Express magazines. I also shot weekly news for Newsweek, Time, Now! and New Society magazines.

I always  worked on my own personal photographic documentary projects. These include work on aspects of British Society, and documenting traditional British folklore customs, that I started in 1970 and completed seven years later resulting in the publication Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs (Gordon Fraser). I have in recent years been revisiting many of these annual events and finding ‘new’ annual customs that I had not photographed in the 1970s.

I am the  author, and co-author-photographer of eight books about Britain as well as Shanghai Odyssey (Dewi Lewis Publishing) and On the Road Again (Mansion Editions).

More recently Café Royal Books have published ten  limited editions books from my British archive.

My work is represented in private and National Collections.

I have had numerous exhibitions through out my career. A mini retrospective exhibition of ninety photograph, Homer Sykes England 1970-1980, was held at Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau, Paris for over three months in 2014. This was principally from my projects on aspects of British Society. I was the first British photographer to be shown there. There was a publication to go with the exhibit, Homer Sykes This is England  (Poursuite Editions), was published on the occasion of the exhibition.

My vintage prints are represented by the James Hyman Gallery London.

In the last 35 years I have gone from shooting about three editorial commissioned magazine stories a week, mainly one and two days assignments, to about one commission per annum. Which suits me fine, as 90% of my time is now taken up managing my archive, and shooting stuff that interests me.

Stockport Gypsies 1971 - Daniel Meadows

The first book I will publish in 2015, this Thursday, is Stockport Gypsies 1971 by Daniel Meadows. It's the the first in a series of eight books I'm publishing with Daniel. The books accompany the release of one of his movies; each offering an insight into a part of his archive which is held, in its entirety, by the Library of Birmingham. There are 40 movies in total, I will make a post here as each is released. The eight books will be printed as editions of 150-200 including a very limited boxed set (ed/50) of all eight, and including a DVD of the eight corresponding movies.

So here is this week's movie from Daniel:

Talking Picture no. 5: Shireen Shah by Daniel Meadows. 01_stockport_gypsies_thumbnail

Stockport Gypsies 1971 Daniel Meadows 07.01.15 24 pages 14cm x 20cm b/w digital Edition of 200

The first in a series of eight books by Daniel Meadows. There will be a boxed set published as a very limited edition of 50, included in the edition of 200 mentioned above. The boxed set will include all eight books and a DVD containing eight corresponding movies. The movies, Daniel is releasing weekly over forty weeks, each offering an insight into his archive which is held at the Library of Birmingham.

Talking Picture no. 10: George Bowen—Daniel Meadows

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Talking Picture no. 10: George Bowen—Daniel Meadows

George Bowen of the National Front, talking fairly candidly in 1974.

Relevant.

The Daniel Meadows archive is held at the Library of Birmingham. The library has one of the most important and accessible photographic collections in the UK, curated by Pete James (Curator of Photography Collections. Budget cuts will directly affect the Library, the collection, this department and its ability to continue to provide the excellent service it does currently. There is a petition here that you can sign to help protect the library from the cuts, and one here which is more specific to the department. To make the choice easier, I'd suggest signing both!

Talking Picture no. 9: Mr Chadfield — Daniel Meadows

This week's short movie by Daniel Meadows; Talking Picture no. 9: Mr Chadfield, the eighth release in the series of forty. Pigeon post in Stoke on Trent. chadfield_thumbnail

I will soon compile a list of books on a separate page, but for now...

Further reading: Meadows, D. 2001. The Bus: The Free Photographic Omnibus, 1973-2001. London: Harvill. Meadows, D. 1975. Living Like This: Around Britain in the Seventies. London: Arrow. Williams, V. 2011.Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80sBrighton: Photoworks. Meadows, D. 1988. Nattering in Paradise. Suburbia in the 1980's.London: Harper Collins.

Also, a tenuous link. The recently published Pigeons by Stephen Gill is very good. Gill used a telescopic window-cleaner’s and a flash to get shots of pigeons living around the city.

Talking Picture no. 7: The Bus - Daniel Meadows

The seventh in a series of forty movies by Daniel Meadows. For just over a year, from late 1973, Meadows lived in a double decker bus he had bought for £360, soon after leaving Manchester Polytechnic. The Free Photographic Omnibus was his studio, gallery and home. He travelled 10000 miles offering free portraits to those who came, then gave prints to those who returned. Here Daniel re-introduces, quite modestly, his ambitious project. The Daniel Meadows archive is held at the Library of Birmingham.

"Talking Picture no. 7: The Bus" is the seventh release in a series of forty, weekly releases.

Talking Picture no. 7: The Bus - Daniel Meadows

Further reading: Meadows, D. 2001. The Bus: The Free Photographic Omnibus, 1973-2001. London: Harvill. Meadows, D. 1975. Living Like This: Around Britain in the Seventies. London: Arrow. Williams, V. 2011.Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s and 80sBrighton: Photoworks. Meadows, D. 1988. Nattering in Paradise. Suburbia in the 1980's.London: Harper Collins.

John Claridge, Over 50 Years of Archived Work

On the 30th of August 2012 I published the first of what has become a long series of books by John Claridge.  John worked through the 'Golden Age' of advertising, for many international big name brands. With each commercial project though, John found time to make some work for himself. John grew up in the East End of London, and it's there that we began with our books. Some images and details below, more will follow as I slowly create an archive for Café Royal Books.

This text has been written by John Chillingworth and Helena Srakocic-Kovac and details significant moments of his career.

 At about the age of eight, John's life-long passion for photography that was born when he spotted a plastic camera at a local funfair in London's East End, where he was born in 1944. He just had to win it, it was as simple as that. Knowing that possessing the camera would let him take home all the memories of that day.

There is always something new to appreciate about 'ground-breaking' professional photography. John Chillingworth wrote in his series evaluating photography's 'greats', that he has seldom, if ever, met someone with the same natural creative needs as the good and great of earlier generations. Whatever the rule, John Claridge is the exception.

Another case of déja vu?  An East End education (or lack of it).  Left school at 15 – talked his way into his first job in photography and the rest is history!

Well, no! John Claridge is, in every way, a one-off.   True, the boy from Plaistow, with a handful of 'jack-the-lad' cultural contemporaries could have drifted into dead-end employment, or brushes with the law, or worse, but there was something different about him.

As a consequence, in 1960, at the behest of the West Ham Labour Exchange, he dressed in his best East End 'duds'. With hair plastered a jaunty angle and armed only with a bucketful of determination, the boy from Plaistow went 'up West'. The interview resulted in a job at McCann-Erickson in the Photographic Department.

He strode forward with the kind of youthful exuberance, which college-educated contemporaries often failed to comprehend, let alone emulate, Claridge grew in stature.

During the two years he worked at McCanns, not only did he have his first one-man show,  he was inspired by many, namely the legendary designer Robert Brownjohn. His work that was exhibited at this first one-man show was acclaimed in the photographic press as 'shades of Walker Evans'.

At seventeen he turned up on the doorstep of Bill Brandt's Hampstead home – to give him one of his treasured prints.  Gentle and polite, Brandt invited him in;  sought the young Claridge's opinion on his current work and sent him away feeling ten feet high.

Recommended by established photographers and art directors, he became David Montgomery's assistant between the ages of fifteen and seventeen.

By the tender age of nineteen he had opened his own studio near London's St Paul's Cathedral. His ideas and his images matured rapidly.   A mix of editorial and advertising commissions brought him and his easy confidence to the attention of 1960s advertising trend-setters. The result of which has been the presentation of over 700 awards for his work.

His by-line became familiar in many of the monthly magazines of the day and his reputation began to move from a national to an international level.

By the age of twenty-three, as well as having a home on the Essex marshes and a de rigueur E-type Jaguar, although his real sporting love was and still is the motorbike, he had written, produced and shot a short film titled  "Five Soldiers".   An American Civil War tale which, when shown on a university campus in the US, caused a riot among the students as it was compared with the war in Vietnam   …  the press said compared the film tp Luis Buñuel.   The film was eventually banned but made its way onto the underground circuit.

He realises now that he had been working in the 'golden age of advertising', and as the years melted into decades, the commissions took him around the world.   Tourist boards in the Bahamas, India and the US recognised his highly individual visual talent. Banks, whisky distillers, international corporations, car manufacturers, all were (and still are) prepared to give him his head to creative images that inspired their ad agency art directors to greater and more stunning campaigns.   The result of which has been the presentation of over 700 awards for his work.

John’s work has moved on over recent years.   Here is what eminent photography critic and historian Helena Srakocic-Kovac recently had to say about John’s work:   “When you decided to pull back from advertising  …  which, I think, is such a shame because you revolutionised it and elevated it to an art form  …  you have been substituting it with work of equivalent value, guts and visual strength but so very different  …   so much to see  …   to me at times it appears as if it's not yours  …  unstructured and scattered in its beauty  …  you used to tell stories and now it's more about feelings and moments in life  …”

His work is held in museums and private collections worldwide, including The Arts Council of Great Britain, Victoria & Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery and The Museum of Modern Art.

He has also published several books under his own imprint:

·       South American Portfolio (1982) ·       One Hundred Photographs (1988) ·       Seven Days in Havana (2000) ·       8 Hours (2002) ·       In Shadows I Dream (2003) ·       Silent Ballads (2013) ·       Seven Days in Havana – Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7 – seven volumes (2013) ·       Presenting Clowns – Act 1 (2013) ·       Paintings (2014) ·       Tommy Cooper (2014) ·       Tuscany (2014) ·       The Last Ride (2014)

Text ©John Chillingworth and Helena Srakocic-Kovac. Photographs © John Claridge. Books in the images© Café Royal Books.

Original prints, lithographs and books can be purchased through Nicky Akehurst. Further prints for sale.

Another Time Another Place John Claridge 2012 28 pages 14cm x 20cm b/w digital Numbered edition of 100

Along the Thames John Claridge 2012 28 pages 14cm x 20cm b/w digital Numbered edition of 100

 

Talking Picture no. 1: Polyfoto - Daniel Meadows

This week Daniel Meadows updated his movie stream on Vimeo with 'Talking Picture no. 1: Polyfoto'. Back to the beginning...

This method of taking a photograph, in a booth much like a passport photo strikes me as something that could do well today. Perhaps a revival of the Polyfoto booth? Someone like Lomography could surely do that. Surprisingly, there seems to be little information online regarding Polyfoto. Here are a couple of links that are available: Company info site Flickr Polyfoto pool Photo Detective

'Talking Picture no. 1: Polyfoto' is the sixth release in a series of 40 weekly releases.

Daniel Meadows - Polyfoto

I'm working with Daniel on a series of eight books, the first of which, Stockport Gypsies 1971, will be released in January. It can be pre-ordered now as part of the January subscription.

Screenshot 2014-11-26 16.29.57

 

Talking Picture no. 3: Angela Loretta Lindsey - Daniel Meadows

Daniel Meadows update! Yesterday Daniel released another movie from his series of 40 (see previous posts for details).

This week's "release" is made with the earliest audio recording from my archive (now in the Library of Birmingham). It's from the free studio I ran on Greame Street in Manchester's Moss Side, in 1972, and it's very short. Just 37 seconds.

"Talking Picture no. 3: Angela Loretta Lindsey" is the fifth release in a series of 40 weekly releases.

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