Can you help identify the locations in these John Piper photographs?

By Angelika Rusbridge | 13 August 2015

Could some of these have been taken in your backyard? John Piper took thousands of photographs, some of which still need identifying

A photograph of Kidwelly Castle, located in Wales. It is in the background on a hill with a path in the foreground and a small wheelbarrow casting a shadow on the path. The image is in black and white.
Kidwelly Castle, Wales© The Piper Estate
Tate has used its website to release almost 6,000 black and white negatives of photographs taken by John Piper, asking the public to help establish the locations of 1,000 which remain unidentified.

Taken between 1930 and 1980, the images of landscapes, architectural details on buildings, churches and more convey the same complex tones and moods communicated through his paintings.

The photograph is of a white church, behind iron gates surrounded by white, possibly cement, waist-high wall. The church is seen from the front, with two long narrow windows on either side of the facade, and a door directly in the centre, below a circular window positioned as the highest window. There are clouds in the sky and what could be the moon above, creating an eerie atmosphere. The negative, from the Tate Archives thanks to the Piper Estate, is in black and white.
Croesgoch Chapel in Pembrokeshire© The Piper Estate
Even as a child, Piper was influenced by old buildings, sketching them out to create makeshift guidebooks. It comes as no surprise, then, that some of the sites featured in the photographs inspired his paintings.

Described as a “sombre yet fiery genius”, Piper remains something of a towering figure in English painting 23 years after his death.

View from the interior of a church, with pews to either side, a high ceiling, and a cross at the highest point of an arch located in the centre of the room. The image is a bit blurred by the movement of the camera, making it seem surreal. The photograph, from the Tate Archives on behalf of the Piper Estate, is in black and white.
Interior of a church, possibly located in Yorkshire. Reference: TGA 8728/1/40/180© The Piper Estate
Seminal in the world of art for his contribution to the neo-romantic movement during the 1930s and 1940s, his work on the Shell Guides and for being a part of the Seven and Five Society, Piper wore many hats which always seemed to suit him.

He worked as a war artist during World War Two and portrayed bombed out buildings with an eerie quality, described by Times writer Jeffery Daniels as “all the more poignant for the exclusion of the human element.”

The view is of the interior of Coventry Cathedral with the tower to the left in the background. Rubble covers the floor, the windows are blown out, and the roof is gone. The negative, from the Tate Archives thanks to the Piper Estate, is in black and white.
Coventry Cathedral, Warwickshire, November 5 1940; the day after it was bombed.© The Piper Estate
John Betjeman, a poet and great friend, was reported to have said: “You have saved much of England by your pictures of architecture and landscape.

“What is more you have increased our vision.

“Things look like pictures by Mr Piper and look better for having been seen by him.”

Ruins at the bottom of a rolling hill. One wall is on the left of the image, the other deeper into the photograph running perpendicular to the first wall. There is grass and trees throughout, and no windows or doors. The negative, from Tate Archives thanks to the Piper Estate, is in black and white.
Ruins, maybe located in Cardiganshire. Reference: TGA-8728/TGA-8728-3-4-122-1_10© The Piper Estate
As if to defy even this analysis, he is famously quoted as saying: “I see no thread running through my work; I simply get on with my life and my painting.


What do you think? Leave a comment below.


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