Curator’s Choice: Val Williams, curator of the first retrospective of the career of photographer Daniel Meadows, on Brighton, Sussex. May 1974
“This photograph, of two teenage girls standing in front of a grafittied wall, is part of a set of portraits made by Daniel Meadows as he toured England in a converted double-decker bus in the early 1970s.
© Daniel Meadows
Meadows invited local people to be photographed – in return, they received a free print.
I first came across the portraits in 1997, when I worked with the Viewpoint Gallery in Salford to produce National Portraits, a book and exhibition of the Free Photographic Omnibus photographs.
They appeared in Meadows’ 1975 publication, Living Like This: Around Britain in the Seventies, which included both documentary photographs about the people and places that Meadows encountered on his journey and a small selection of the free portraits.
There are a number of photographs of teenagers in the series. I have chosen this one because its says so much about the times when the photograph was taken: the early 1970s, when England was bleak, divided and yet full of promise and potential.
The two girls are wearing clothes which epitomised teenage style of the time – bellbottom jeans, ‘granny’ shoes and mini skirts. This was not high fashion, just inexpensive outfits put together by ordinary young women, and as such are a remarkable window into their world.
Although they gaze seriously at the camera, these teenagers seem to be enjoying having their photograph taken and, although a little nervous, they are clearly aware of the significance of the event.
An unknown young photographer, a spring day, an unexpected encounter – it’s an image which lives on past its own time and into ours."
- Daniel Meadows: Early Photographic Works is at the London College of Communication until October 31 2015 as part of Inside Out Festival.
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