Talking Picture no. 10: George Bowen—Daniel Meadows


Talking Picture no. 10: George Bowen—Daniel Meadows

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


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.

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.

David Walker – Birds Don’t Sing in The Dark

I posted last month, David Walker’s Spectators series in conjunction with the release of his book of the same name. People watching, and people-watching are the core of the series which was shot between 1983-84. The Spectators so engrossed in their sport that David went unnoticed.
David’s work differs from most of what I publish. He comes from an art direction background, creating work on brief, using the appropriate method for the job. This is something I always encourage students to do, when for example, making artist’s books. The form should be determined by the content. Can the form of the book lend itself to the way the reader perceives or uses the book?

Whereas most would tackle a project with a fairly consistent aesthetic style, David tackles each project very differently, as shown  here in two projects shot during the same period. From Kev to Bev (1985-86), and Birds Don’t Sing in the Dark (1983-87)

Continuing from his Spectators project, David added:

What followed was a commission from Rod Taylor at Wigan Metro to photograph the people of Leigh. I decided to create a life size mural around the large gallery walls at the Turnpike with the characters I chose peaking out from the background at various intervals. ‘From Kev to Bev’ was based on a young married couple I found in Leigh.

The work was shown in an Arts Programme ‘Celebration’ by the BBC. Twelve of the images from that show were used some years later in a 1997 Calendar by the prestigious The Chase in Manchester titled ‘THERES NOWT SO QUEER AS FOLK’.

They won two D&AD Awards, one for photography and one for Design. It also won the Calendar of the year in Creative Review.

I was very precious about whether this work was being shown as it was originally intended so I decided audaciously therefore to turn down The Photographers Gallery who wanted to show the portraits framed individually.

Whilst working on that show I was conscious that I was not revealing my true character in my work so I began photographing images which reflected the mood I felt whilst living in a Thatcherite Britain, a dark brooding colourless country without much light at the end of a very long dark tunnel.

During that period I went to a gig and one of the acts was an Irish singer songwriter, Paul O’Reilly, and a lyric in one of the songs was ‘birds don’t sing in the dark’. I couldn’t believe it because one of the images I took in the new series was of a bird’s nest in a butchered bush, I asked him therefore if I could use it as a title to my project. He agreed

‘Birds’ was also a change in direction for me, I decided right there that from now on there would be no more people in my photographs.

All images © David Walker.

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
28 pages
14cm x 20cm
b/w digital
Numbered edition of 100

Along the Thames
John Claridge
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