Ikon presents the first major exhibition by John Myers (b. Bradford, UK, 1944),comprising photographs made throughout the early 1970s including Middle England(1970-1974), a selection of portraits of individuals and families living in and aroundStourbridge and the Black Country. Myers' approach is documentary in style,concerned with taste, of the self-perceptions and aspirations of his subjects and thespaces they occupy, as well as of the artist himself.
Myers was a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Stourbridge College from 1969, duringwhich time he made a series of portraits of people known to him, taken in locationswithin walking distance of his home. Myers used a Gandolfi plate camera set on atripod with a dark viewing cloth, prompting a sense of occasion in his subjects andthe results are remarkable. Subjects are at once self-conscious and seemingly athome, pointed up as specimens of humanity yet touching and sympathetic. Theseare the portraits of Middle England, acclaimed at the time by internationalphotography journals such as CAMERA and Ten:8 and exhibited in major surveyexhibitions such as Serpentine Photography in 1973.
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In addition, Myers made typological studies of TV sets and a series of Boringlandscapes, the latter alternatively entitled Landscapes without incident. For these,all made in and around the Stourbridge area, Myers made a concerted effort to rejectthe 'value added' approach to photography that was a powerful force at the time.
The Boring landscapes contain no hidden story; this is the urban scene without thedistraction of the human figure or any implied narrative. The viewpoint is at eyelevel, suggesting a possibility that the viewer is the first person to encounter DualCarriageway (1974) or Lift Doors at Waitrose (1975). The ten photographs oftelevisions (1973) similarly convey a sense of novelty, encouraging our careful lookat the overlooked.
Capturing the ordinary with flat light in a deadpan style, Myers' images are notsimply documents of the West Midlands in the early 1970s but rather are knowinglygeneric, a backdrop to the mundane, the everyday. They represent a distinctly Britishbrand of New Topographic photography.
Ten portraits from John Myers' Middle England series will be displayed in frames onhoardings surrounding the Library of Birmingham, outside the Birmingham Rep, forthe duration of the exhibition.The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by PaulLewis and Eugenie Shinkle. It is presented in collaboration with Birmingham Libraryand Archive Services.
For more information, high-res images and to arrange an interview with thecurator please contact Helen Stallard on 0774 033 9604 or email@example.com