"It says so much about early 1970s England": Val Williams on the first Daniel Meadows retrospective

| 20 October 2015

Curator’s Choice: Val Williams, curator of the first retrospective of the career of photographer Daniel Meadows, on Brighton, Sussex. May 1974

A black and white photo of two girls standing by a wall during the early 1970s in a photo by Daniel Meadows
Brighton, Sussex. May 1974© Daniel Meadows
“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.

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.

More Curators' Choices from Culture24

A pop art depiction of Marilyn Monroe with a hidden inscription at Tate Liverpool

3D guns, Primark trousers and Katy Perry eyelashes at the V&A

A strapless dress, a shark off the Cumbria coast and a beer barrel
Latest comment: >Make a comment
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at www.culture24.org.uk are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.


    • 1 mile
    • 2 miles
    • 3 miles
    • 4 miles
    • 5 miles
    • 10 miles
    • 20 miles
    • 50 miles
    • Any time
    • Today
    • This week
    • This month
    • This year