Daniel Meadows

Daniel Meadows is a British photographer, a contemporary and friend of Martin Parr, who taught and worked in collaboration with him. He describes himself on his website as ‘I am a Documentarist, I have spent a lifetime recording British society, challenging the status quo by working in a collaborative way to capture extraordinary aspects of ordinary life, principally through photography but also with audio recordings and short movies’ (Meadows, 2019) and says his story is about the England he comes from. An archive of all his work to March 2018 is held in the Boddleian Library in Oxford and has been used to study how UK photographers can make their work and studies publicly available.

The June Street series was made in collaboration with Martin Parr in 1973, as series of pictures of the residents of houses in June Street, Salford, that were awaiting demolition. They took photographs of families in their sitting rooms, all looking at him, seated in similar positions. The project was taken up by the BBC and the verbal stories and comments of the people were added. A short Vimeo talk, Daniel Meadows – June Street by Meadows explains how he went back to see some of the residents of June Street in 1996 and how the photographs brought back memories of the past. He also talks about the comments of some bloggers on an exhibition in 2011 talking about how his photographs of June Street brought back personal memories of their own childhoods and says ‘ ..that something so rooted in a specific past can speak so powerfully in an ever-changing present and with such a range of meaning is, I think, magical’ (Meadows, 2014).

In the introduction to his recent book, Now and Then, England 1970-2015 Meadows says ‘My rule of thumb when doing documentary work is to try and treat people as individuals, not types’ (Meadows 2019). This is completely opposite to the rule of typology that Sander used and leads to a very different kind of image. He quotes Karl Ove Knausgaard who says ‘; Should our culture not …. establish difference, which is the stuff of all worth in which value resides and from which it is released’ (Knausgaard, 2018). The book starts from his very early work as a student when he set up a free photo-studio in a disused room in Graeme Street. Even these early images show the individual nature of the people he took, the cheekiness of the children and the serious adults. He moved on to travelling with a bus, still taking free pictures of anyone who wanted their picture taken, single people, pairs and groups – building up an early version of a portrait of England. He made contact with some of the people photographed in both these projects many years later and took their stories and re-photographed them – hence Now and Then. It makes fascinating reading. Among other things, in 1975 he was photographer-in -residence for the Borough of Pendle, where he took images of what was then the industrial heartland of England, the people, the machines and the scenery. All in black and white – colour was generally too expensive then. The photographs in Now and Then are accompanied by the stories of the people, not (definitely not) politically correct – but extremely funny. He has always made audio recordings to go with the images – to extend the story.

References:

Knausgaard, K.O. (2018). My Struggle. London: Harvill Secker, p.p.626.

Meadows, D. (2014). Photobus ~ Daniel Meadows. [online] Photobus.co.uk. Available at: http://www.photobus.co.uk/daniel-meadows [Accessed 17 Oct. 2019].

Meadows, D. (2019a). June Street, Salford by Daniel Meadows. My photography stories #4. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/110983025 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2019].

Meadows, D. (2019b). Now and Then: England 1970-2015. Oxford: Bodleian Library.

 

 

 

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