Museum of Croydon prepares to welcome home election snapper Simon Roberts for We English

By Matthew Hilliard | 11 November 2010
a photo of paragliders floating across a landscape
Simon Roberts, South Downs Way© Simon Roberts
Exhibition: Simon Roberts: We English, Museum of Croydon, Croydon, November 18 2010 - February 26 2011

Englishness will be paying a visit to the Museum of Croydon this November with socio-documentary photographer Simon Roberts’ latest portfolio, We English.

The exhibition is a detailed account of national identity and people at leisure which resulted in an exercise to capture the heritage of the British landscape.

Born in Croydon, Roberts toured the length and breadth of the country with his family in their motor home, photographing people relaxing, enjoying their pastimes, or merely being with each other.

“Looking at the activities we partake in outdoors struck me as a thought-provoking way of exploring England’s shifting cultural and national identity,” says Roberts.

“They seem to say much more about who we are than, for instance, what we do in the workplace. And landscape is an intrinsic part of these experiences.”

a photo of a summer scene at a carnival with people sitting on scorched grass and a funfair in the background
Simon Roberts, Croydon Summer Festival© Simon Roberts
The Museum of Croydon will be the first London-based venue to exhibit Roberts’ work, which includes a homage to and recently commissioned image of his hometown: Croydon Summer Festival.

Other highlights include the contrast of the rural and industrial with the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, and the panorama from Sussex’s South Downs landscape.

“The photographs are beautiful and at the same time thought-provoking.” says Laura Williams, the Museum's Exhibitions Manager. “It is also very special to have a Croydon-specific shot.”

Earlier this year Roberts was appointed as Official Election Artist for the general election in May, which again saw him tour the country, capturing the campaigns of the political parties.

His previous photographs have been exhibited around the world, with shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai  and the George Eastman House in New York. His hometown show has left him “delighted” to finally have an exhibition in the city of his birth.

We English will be accompanied by a selection of images from Croydon’s Local Studies Library and Archives Services, depicting the past 70 years of Croydon at leisure.
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