Growing up in London during the 1940s and 50s, I witnessed the last decade of magazines like Picture Post. Photography then seemed to be the medium of the moment, second only to cinema, able to reveal, isolate and communicate what mattered about the human condition in new and direct but still individual ways. It was a period when humane attitudes were still more central to public life. Working for magazines and publishers during the 1960s and 70s, I amassed many tens of thousands of images, mostly taken in England, while teaching later allowed me both the time and independence to work on personal projects as well as on editing this work into groups of images arranged to emphasise their personal significance to me, the first of which was a collection of photographs of the Aldermaston Marches taken between 1959 and 64. These were printed onto document paper that had a limited tonal range but was much thinner than conventional photographic paper, making it suitable for mounting, sewing and binding into a book - a digitised and edited facsimile of which is included here.

Over 200 other photographs were, in 1971, published by Allen Lane The Penguin Press as a book entitled “How We Are”. I was then commissioned, along with writer Dennis Marsden, to produce a book about unemployment entitled “Workless” and published by Penguin in 1975.

In 1979 I moved to Lincolnshire to take up a lecturing post and spent the next few years photographing the village into which I had settled and where I also continued to edit my early work into new sequences - unpublished little books that were later donated to the library at the University of Sussex, where they form part of an archive containing the core of all my work. After taking early retirement from teaching in 1990, I worked on new projects, eventually in colour, one of which explored the nature of water in landscape as metaphor for human experience and was later edited into a sequence entitled ‘nub’ alongside other photographs, some of politicians taken during the two general elections held in 1974 and others of families with young children from the same decade.

More recently I spent much of 2010 & 11 photographing a farm near Boston at the invitation of its owner, Andrew Dennis. Woodlands was a 1700 acre mixed organic and biodynamic farm. It formed part of a farming enterprise that had been in the Dennis family for four generations. The farm became organic in the late 1990s when a market garden was set up to sell produce in local Farmer’s Markets as well as offering a vegetable box scheme. Local breeds of Lincoln Red cattle and Lincoln Longwool sheep, Lincolnshire Buff and Black Rock chickens, various breeds of turkey and Curly Coat pigs were also introduced alongside an ambitious programme of hedge and tree planting. The farm ran educational and cultural events, frequent open days and offered residencies for artists.

While looking for an appropriate way to show these photographs on the web, I came across software with which I could put together a film version of the work, to which I added some of my earlier village pictures, re-titled the piece ‘in Lincolnshire’ and asked Ralph Shilcock, a young musician and neighbour, to add a guitar accompaniment. I then made ‘How We Are - revisited’ a film of my book that included some of the ‘Workless’ pictures as a coda and was again accompanied by Ralph’s guitar. I also put together a short film of the ‘nub’ sequence, which completes this account of my work.


How We Are - revisited

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in Lincolnshire

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Background & Career