Roger Mayne: Aspects of a Great Photographer at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

By Richard Moss | 23 January 2013

Exhibition preview: Roger Mayne: Aspects of a Great Photographer, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, January 26 – April 7 2013

a black and white photo of a small boy in a cowboy outfit running down a street pursued by other small boys
Roger Mayne, Bath (1961)© Roger Mayne
When Picture Post photographer Roger Mayne picked up his Zeiss Super Ikonta camera and headed into the 1950s streets of North Kensington, he was about to record a career defining collection of photographs of a society on the cusp of great upheaval.

The shots he took of the working class families who lived in the neighbourhood of Southam Street, in Notting Dale, are today held by the V&A as a collection of national importance.

a photo of two elderly ladies sitting at a restaurant table
Roger Mayne, Pump Room, Bath (1957)© Roger Mayne
Much of the area was cleared in 1969 and replaced by Erno Goldfinger’s brutalist experiment in high rise tower block living, Trellick Tower.

But as well as offering an insight into the lives of ordinary Londoners eking out a living in the last remnants of the capital’s Victorian slums, the project gave Mayne an impetus - and a reputation.

The iconic images of working class life have since appeared both in numerous gallery exhibitions and on the covers of everything from Colin MacInnes novels to Morrissey records.

From the 1960s onwards, Mayne turned his eye to similar outdoor scenes in Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, the Mediterranean, Japan and China, latterly focusing on the development of his own children and grandchildren.

He also turned his hand to photographic portraiture, capturing many figures of the sixties art scene including Henry Moore, Terry Frost, Roger Hilton and Gillian Ayres.

This major retrospective, which also includes some of Mayne’s lyrical and expressive drawings of landscapes and nudes, revisits some key examples from a long career - including his lesser known photographs of Bath.

In 1957 Mayne undertook a photographic essay for the prospectus of the Bath Academy of Art, focusing on the student experience. He later took up a teaching position at the Academy under Clifford Ellis (1966-9).

  • Open 10am-5pm (1.30pm-5pm Sunday, closed Monday). Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @VictoriaArtBath.

More pictures:

a photo of a man on a pavement dangling a string onto a kitten as a boy eats an apple
Roger Mayne, Hampden Crescent© Roger Mayne
a black and white photo of a life drawing class with a nude female model and students painting at easels
Roger Mayne, Life Class in the Old Barn, Corsham Court (1957)© Roger Mayne
a photo of two female art students drawing
Roger Mayne, Life Class, Bath Academy of Art (1957)© Roger Mayne
  • A free tour of the exhibition will take place with the Victoria Art Gallery Manager Jon Benington on Friday February 22 from 1pm-1.45pm. Booking is not required but arrive in good time to be sure of a place.
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