This is the first major exhibition by Midlands-based artist
John Myers. Comprising black and white photographs made in the 1970s, Ikon’s
selection includes Middle England (1970–1974), a number of portraits of
individuals and families living in and around Stourbridge and the Black
catalogue with essays by Paul Lewis, writer and photography specialist, and
Eugénie Shinkle, photographer, writer and Senior Lecturer in Photographic
Theory and Criticism at the University of Westminster, accompanies the
exhibition, priced £15.
Click here to visit Ikon's online shop.
Myers’ approach is documentary in style, reflecting the
taste, self-perceptions and aspirations of the people he photographed. Thus we
observe them in their sitting rooms and bedrooms, or in their leisure or work
spaces, surrounded by the telling paraphernalia of their daily lives. They pose
with deliberate stances and gestures, responding to the sense of occasion
engendered by Myers’ use of a Gandolfi plate camera set on a tripod with a dark
viewing cloth. As well as domestic interiors, occupied particularly by couples
and women, we see the studio where a young girl attends ballet classes, the
back yard where a boy plays football and a club where two men play snooker.
Myers chose to photograph people who lived within walking
distance of his own home, and so he recorded the world as he knew it. A kind of
natural history unfolds through Middle England, with its depictions of human
life and habitats, significantly as the portraits are shown alongside an
exceptional image of a giraffe in a zoo enclosure. This juxtaposition reminds us
of the fact that we are shaped by our built environments, as much as we shape
In addition to Middle England, Myers made typological
studies of TV sets and a series of Boring Landscapes. For these photographs,
Myers ensured there was no hidden story; this is the urban scene without the
distraction of the human figure or any implied narrative. The viewpoint is at
eye level, suggesting that the viewer might be the first person to encounter Dual
Carriageway (1974) or Lift Doors at Waitrose (1975). The ten photographs of televisions
(1973) similarly convey a sense of novelty, encouraging our careful
consideration of what might be overlooked through familiarity.
Ten portraits from John Myers’ Middle England series are
displayed in frames on the hoardings around the construction site of the new
Library of Birmingham, outside the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, for the
duration of this exhibition. Middle England is organised in collaboration with
Birmingham Library and Archive Services.
John Myers leads a
walking tour of his exhibition on 17 January and takes part in Capturing Middle
England on 27 January 2012
The John Myers exhibition is supported by The Owen Family Trust.
John Myers Press Release (PDF 218kb)
John Myers_ List of works (PDF 41kb)