National Media Museum explores the Early Photographic Works of Daniel Meadows

By Iyke Onodugo | 24 October 2011
a colour photo of a woman leaving a shop
Daniel Meadows, Butlins by the Sea, 1972.© Daniel Meadows
Exhibition: Daniel Meadows, Early Photographic Works at the National Media Museum, Bradford until Februray 19 2012.

In the 1970s Daniel Meadows recreated the art of storytelling, by breaking with the norms and regulations of British photography and embarking on a journey to document the social life of Britain through pictures.

His resulting work was full of intrigue and had the deep complexity that comes from being passionate about your work. Throughout his career he captured a unique record of British life in an urban context due to his uniquely collaborative way of working with the community and the subjects of his photographs.

In 1972 he opened his first photographic studio in Manchester. It was here that his first project came to be. The shop on Greame Street featured residents from the district in the Moss Side of Manchester which they were given copies of, free of charge. A selection of these images is now on display at the National Media Museum.

Meadow’s commitment to recording the British social sphere in pictures saw the creation of two further projects, developed in partnership with Martin Parr; June Street, an intimate look at family life in Britain and Butlin’s by the sea an intriguing document of the British resort in Finley, North Yorkshire.

The highlight of Meadows’ work arguably came when, at age 21, he bought himself a double decker bus, removed the seats and created a dark room and living quarters which he then named the Free Photographic Omnibus.

He travelled around England using the free portraits philosophy of his first exhibition as his driving force. Twenty years later he sought out the Omnibus subjects to re-photograph them for National Portraits: Now and Then.

The exhibition comes as a result of active research by Professor Val Williams. Working with Meadows she has brought together a vast collection of prints, negatives, ephemera and audio recordings.

The result is a beautiful collection of unpublished documents of what seems like an almost forgotten and alien era in British social history.

More photos from the exhibition:

a black and white photo of a family in their living room with three dogs
Daniel Meadows and Martin Parr, June Street, Salford, 1973.© Daniel Meadows
a black and white photo of two young women standing in front of a wall
Daniel Meadows, Free Photographic Omnibus, 1974.© Daniel Meadows
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