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CREDIT: Philip Butler ARPS

Philip Butler ARPS

Print Submission

Statement of Intent

Between 1928 and 1939, Oscar Deutsch wowed the British public with one of the most extraordinary estates of Streamline Moderne cinemas ever built – he named them Odeons; alluring neon-clad beacons of escapism, glamour and affordable luxury during a period of depression and rising international tensions. However, faced with growing challenges, in a rapidly changing society increasingly captivated by television and home entertainment, many of these huge structures struggled to remain viable. Despite being recognised as architecturally important now, countless former Odeons have long since met with the wrecking ball, whilst others continue to fight for survival.

These photographs are part of a larger series capturing what remains of Deutsch’s groundbreaking empire in the twenty-first century. From dazzling restorations to decaying shells, from sympathetic reconfigurations to careless alterations, the photographs intend to highlight the varying fortunes of each building and draw attention to those desperately in need of investment.

I’m passionate about 1930s architecture and often gravitate towards it as my subject matter. I had been working on this Odeon cinema series for a book and felt it would make a suitable submission for the ARPS Documentary category when I heard about it.

All the shots were planned well in advance by surveying the area on Google Streetview. I wanted to display a range of weather and lighting conditions, so carefully chose those that I felt would work better after dark. The condition of the buildings vary dramatically, I wanted to highlight this to show the vulnerability of neglected historic architecture when not maintained sufficiently.

They were taken using a Canon 6DII with a Samyang 24mm tilt-shift lens. It a fairly cheap lens and doesn’t handle chromatic aberration or barrel distortion very well, so quite a bit of correcting was required in post-production. I also got quite adept at removing parked cars from the forecourts!

I chose a pyramid hanging plan as it reflected the architectural form of some of the old cinemas.