Daniel Meadows: Early Photographic Works

15 April 2014

Exhibitions, Industry news

In 2009 the Library of Birmingham acquired a dozen photographs by Daniel Meadows, one of the most influential figures to emerge from the new wave of British independent photography in the 1970s. In May the Library will be presenting a major exhibition of his early work and begin the process of acquiring his entire photography archive.

Curated by Val Williams, Daniel Meadows: Early Photographic Works will include renowned bodies of work such as June Street, Butlins at Filey and the landmark Free Photographic Omnibus project which saw Meadows undertake a journey across England in a double decker bus he had converted into a darkroom and living space. During his 10,000 mile odyssey Meadows photographed almost one thousand people from 22 towns across Britain. He subsequently revisited and re-photographed many of these same people almost 30 years later. Together Meadows’ numerous projects provide an extraordinary window that enables us to look back and see a unique record of England, at work and in its leisure hours, during a critical period in British photographic and social history. 

The exhibition will include new items such as a number plate from Meadows’ Photographic Omnibus and a selection of works drawn from the photography collection at the Library of Birmingham featuring works by Sir Benjamin Stone, Tony Ray-Jones, Meadows, Homer Sykes, Anna Fox and Faye Claridge that reveals the way in which two generations of photographers have been inspired and influenced by the noted Birmingham-born Victorian Record Photographer Sir Benjamin Stone.

Pete James, co-director of GRAIN and curator of photography collections at Library of Birmingham said: '2014 marks the 100 anniversary of the death of Sir Benjamin Stone. It’s therefore very fitting that we are hosting an exhibition by Daniel Meadows who, inspired by Stone’s 19th century project, sought to encounter, observe and record the lives, trades and pastimes of the people he met in the 1970s. We are delighted to be acquiring Daniel’s archive which bears a unique witness to his fascination and passion with people and their ways of life.'

Daniel Meadows said: 'The acquisition of my archive is the result of a collaboration over a number of years with the staff in the photography department of the Library of Birmingham. Pete James, curator, first contacted me in 2005 when he turned up a Sunday Times article from 1974 which linked my work with that of Sir Benjamin Stone and dubbed us "photographic pilgrims". Thanks to the Library my work, like Bunyan's hero in Pilgrim's Progress, has now itself progressed "from this world to that which is to come" rubbing shoulders with the work of another of my great heroes in the collection, oral historian and BBC Radio producer Charles Parker. Picture making and storytelling coming together.'

The bus, which was originally brought for £360.20 is now being renovated and restored at Wythall Transport Museum in the West Midlands.

The exhibition was originated by the Photography and Archive Research Centre (PARC) at the University of the Arts London in partnership with Ffotogallery, the Library of Birmingham, National Media Museum and Photoworks UK. It will be accompanied by a book, published by Photoworks.

Daniel Meadows: Early Photographic Works runs from Friday 16 May – Sunday 17 August and can be found on Level 3 at the Library of Birmingham. There will be a special Artist Talk on Saturday 7 June between 2pm-3pm at the Library of Birmingham. Tickets are £5. Booking is essential.

For more information on the exhibition, the artists and to attend the Artist’s Talk, please visit: www.grainphotographyhub.co.uk

Image: © Daniel Meadows / Butlin’s Filey, Yorkshire, 1972