Academic co-curates Turner Contemporary's first photography exhibition

24 May 2019

A major exhibition opening at the Turner Contemporary this weekend will see the Margate gallery host its first ever photography exhibition.

Seaside: Photographed, co-curated by Dr Karen Shepherdson, Reader in Photography in the School of Media, Art and Design, will examine the relationship between photographers, photography and the British seaside from the 1850s to the present.


Down to the Beach, 1959, photographer Raymond C Lawson (loaned by Nicholas D Cordès

Working with co-curator, Professor Val Williams from the London College of Communication, the exhibition will feature images from the University’s South East Archive of Seaside Photography (SEAS), as well as eminent photographers and other often unknown work from across photography’s history, including Raymond Lawson’s remarkable chronicle of family life in Whitstable.

“To be co-curating the first photographic exhibition at Turner Contemporary is simply thrilling” commented Dr Shepherdson. “Through working in close Partnership with Turner Contemporary, the exhibition will start here, but then go on to three other coastal galleries throughout 2020 and will hopefully help to join the dots around culture and the visual arts of the British Coast.”

Dr Shepherdson continued: “I am so proud that some of the research work we have conducted over the years with SEAS will be featured in the exhibition, along with some other amazing photographers. SEAS is vitally important as it gives a safe house to a number of photographic collections of seaside photography. It is providing a visual record of the past and promoting the concept of the seaside, and the seaside photo, as having important cultural value. To show that our coastal communities matter, and the documentation of our costal communities matter. Our archive is really vital for saying that this community, the coastal community, not just in the south east but in the UK matters.”


Throughout the exhibition images of bygone, halcyon days of coastal towns and holiday resorts will be on display. Images of families, friends, day trippers and residents; hotels, holiday camps and the beach will combine to create a rich picture of the British seaside.

Enzo Ragazzini captures the anarchy of the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, while Stuart Griffiths makes a bleak narrative of the 1990 rave scene in Brighton. Daniel Meadows, Barry Lewis and Dafydd Jones all photographed at Butlins in the 1970s and Grace Robertson records the raucous goings-on of a women’s’ day out to the coast in the 1950s. Composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears, partners in music and in life, created a haven by the sea that they preserved in photographs.


Dafydd Jones, Butlins Uniform, Butlins, Minehead 1979

Seaside:Photographed opens at the Turner Contemporary on Saturday, 25 May and will continue until Sunday, 8 September. It will then tour to three other UK venues in 2020, each with their own unique connection to the seaside; John Hansard Gallery, Grundy Art Gallery, and Newlyn Art Gallery and the Exchange. With support from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

In addition, a book to accompany the exhibition – ‘Seaside: Photographed’ is published by Thames & Hudson and is available now.


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Last edited: 27/06/2019 16:35:00