Abstract The producers of Simon Roberts’ photographic project We English (2009) make substantial claims about its status and achievements within the context of British documentary photography. The documentary photography genre enjoys popularity but often its proponents conveniently overlook pressing issues around its practice and use. Reputation it seems has come before integrity, but perhaps this is not the case. Looking past the gloss of high production values and the seductive and serious nature of the large format camera image, We English, as a legitimate representation of the English people, is contested through application of photography theory and image analysis. John Tagg’s theory of how visual representations contribute to constructing and reaffirming our sense of identity is applied, whilst the review is also mindful of Allan Sekula’s proposal that documentary photographers detangle themselves from the authoritarian, bureaucratic and positivist aspects of the genre. Finally, a brief discussion of nationalism allows for a development in the interpretation of the work. In conclusion, it remains to be seen whether the claims of the producers will outlast the initial marketing and promotional activities.
Photography; use and function
Thinking about The Images
Appendices 1. Brief Interview with Simon Roberts 7th January 2010
2. About We English, Blog post by Roberts dated 1st April 2008
(Cover image; select images from We English, 2009) Figure 1.
Simon Roberts 2009, Derwent Water, Keswick, Cumbria, 27th August 2008
Simon Roberts 2009, Camel Estuary, Padstow, Cornwall, 27th September 2007 13
Simon Roberts 2009 Dunstanburgh Castle, Embleton, Northumberland, 3rd September 2008
Simon Roberts 2009, Keynes Country Park Beach, Shornecote, Gloucestershire,
11th May 2008
Simon Roberts 2009, Mad Maldon Mud Race, River Blackwater, Maldon,
Essex, 30th December 2007
clivejharris 2008, flickr, Spectators, Mad Maldon Mud Race
Simon Roberts 2009, Southdowns Way, West Sussex, 8th October 2007
Simon Roberts 2009, The Haxey Hood, Haxey, North Lincolnshire, 5th January
Simon Roberts 2009, Devils Dyke, South Downs, East Sussex, 6th March 2008
Figure 10. John Hinde Studios postcard images Figure 11.
Simon Roberts 2009, Malvern Hills, Worcestershire, 17th May 2008
Figure 12. Simon Roberts 2009, South East Hertfordshire Bird-‐Watchers, Holkham,
Norfolk, 17th February 2008
Figure 13. Simon Roberts 2009, West Wittering beach, Chichester, West Sussex, 3rd May
Simon Roberts 2009, Salcombe Sands, Devon, 23rd May 2008
Figure 15. Simon Roberts 2009, Ladies’ day, Aintree Racecourse, Merseyside, 4th April
Figure 16. Cover image, We English (2009)
John Kippin 1995, Prayer Meeting, Windermere
Simon Roberts 2009, Paul Herrington’s 50th Birthday, Grantcester,
Cambridgeshire , 15th June 2008
Simon Roberts 2009, Stanage Edge, Hathersage, Derbyshire, 3rd August 2008
Acknowledgements I would like to thank Simon Roberts for answering my questions and supplying images. I would also like to thank members of Northbrook College who assisted me with research and for their general support and encouragement. Respect of course to all those individuals who commit thoughts to paper and to those who disseminate the work of others. Most of all thanks to Jenny Baldwin for diverting my attention away from images and teaching me to read and write.
Introduction Simon Roberts’ recent work We English (2009) is characteristic of contemporary large format photography practice as well as being overt, in subject if not style, in its adherence to the developing tradition of recent 'major' works by British photographers who take it as their quest to explore notions of national and personal identity. Roberts’ publisher Chris Boot is quoted as saying that We English is the most significant contribution to the photography of England in recent years1. We English comprises 56 colour photographs and is presented officially in three formats. My first encounter with We English was through the Internet, in the form of the photographer’s blog2 and portfolio website. Roberts' project was unusually made public before its completion with the launch of the blog site, to which regular posts were made that supported and reported on the development of the work between 2007 and its publication in September 2009. We English is a concentrated study of people at leisure in the English Landscape, 1 http://we-‐english.co.uk/ 2 http://we-‐english.co.uk/blog/
a collection of landscape photographs depicting leisure activities of, one assumes, English citizens. Photographers, like Simon Roberts, who claim greater seriousness for their photographs than amateur photographers do, manifest their differences from popular and formulaic tourist imagery by producing a monograph and exhibition for a broader audience. Roberts is no exception in this case. The work then is found by the Internet photographic community3 and those vicarious consumers of high culture, the gallery audience. Simon Roberts’ stance as serious, although uncritical, photographer remains within the hierarchy of tourism in which trippers scarcely see at all, tourists only glance in order to find reassurance, and travellers practise a long, reflective gaze across the too tranquil interval of English Landscape tradition (Taylor, 1994). Although Roberts separates himself from normal tourist imagery, both by the equipment he uses and the rigorous and contrived style of his images, he does not separate himself from the reassuring imagery of typical tourist behaviours and haunts. In his search for 'English' values he harnesses a specific modality of leisure behaviour, which is dictated by space, and constantly repeated across spaces around the country. Looking at the official book published by Chris Boot is a very different experience from looking at the images on the Internet and in the gallery. The book is in keeping with Boot’s standards and is well printed and simply designed. But, to ignore this attempted seduction by production values and concentrate on the photographs as a collection that represents the aim of the producers is the task in hand. The context of the book, within relation to other photo books, as judged by its production qualities, is not of interest here save to say that the high production values of the book emphasise the seriousness and proposed value of the project as a whole. It is worth mentioning the power that high production values have in convincing an audience that a work has a legitimate purpose and a consequent value. 3 Roberts’ work has a presence on the popular photo sharing website flickr and has been promoted through
more specialist online photography blog and magazine sites such as foto8 and Lensculture.
Considered away from the high standards of their presentation and in the context of contemporary photographic discourse, the images themselves and the 'body of work' become open to criticism. Roberts’ self appointment to the task of extending a long tradition of acclaimed, critically or otherwise, British social documentary photography is suggestive toward his personal ambitions and speaks clearly of his aims as a careerist photographer, one who desires recognition and is prepared to deploy a strategy to achieve it. His marketing strategies4 and the touring nature of the project work together to create an instant geographically broad, but relatively narrow, national audience. Roberts proposes a distinction on the basis of nationality (the English), but chooses a style that emanates from recent fashions in European photography5 and influences from the canon of European painters; he is prepared to represent the English under hefty European influence. John Taylor notes in A Dream of England (1994) that documentary is not disruptive of social norms, on the contrary it confirms them (Taylor, 1994). Subsequently Roberts’ work pays heed to the notion that England's strength is its unity in difference by offering a typology of human recreation that illustrates a pseudo diversity of activity and topography. We English joins the convention of comforting diversity with the convention of recording current events in the established documentary mode. In chapter 1 I aim to briefly discuss the genre of documentary photography in reference to Allan Sekula and John Tagg and to involve We English in the discussion through equally brief image analysis. The scope of the project as suggested by the title is limited to England and is a study of collective behaviour. The notion of the collective denies the significance of the individual, instead placing importance on the idea of shared behaviour. This shared behaviour unites individuals and supports the suggestion of a 4 The project was supported by (but not solely) and promoted through the broadsheet press (The Times) the
context of which it could be argued informed the nature of the project. Roberts has significant career experience in producing photo stories for broadsheet supplement magazines, such magazines being a context within which Roberts has an established reputation and is comfortable working. 5 The Americans Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld are also named as influential in general, but this is not so apparent as the obvious influence of the Dutch painter Hendrik Avercamp and the contemporary European style of photographers such as Peter Bialobrzeski and Massimo Vitali, both of whose work offers a similar approach in subject and style, in the We English photographs.
distinct national identity and consequently representations thereof. A study or investigation of unique behaviours, however, would challenge the simplistic idea that a shared repertoire of actions binds individuals sufficiently in order to create a distinctive national identity present in the individuals of a society. Roberts claims that his work does not define the English, but represent them. In chapter 2 I will aim to query the representation through further image analysis and discussion. Looking at the English landscape as a porthole to the past and as a source for patriotic reaffirmation is a familiar plight and one advocated by Roberts in We English. The desire to discover the present through looking at the past, by decoding the landscape, seems to Roberts to be an appropriate model to potentially yield a favourable result to his investigation. In chapter 3 I aim to consider the ideas of nationalism of which We English prompts examination in order to highlight problematic areas in the work. 8
Photography; use and function
The work, by the artist's own declaration, exists as an extension of the legacy of canonical photographic studies of the British public by British photographers, and therefore places itself within a specific discourse. The notion of discourse is a notion of limits, of boundaries that provide the very possibility for meaning. Any search for meaning is inescapably subject to cultural definition, and in this respect photographs are not unique. To talk about the work in question with any worthwhile purpose it will be necessary to locate in the work significant problematic areas for investigation and discussion within the photographic discourse. This discourse here provides the context of the meaning of this investigation and determines its subsequent outcome. Here I will briefly outline the concept of social documentary photography, referring to John Tagg and Allen Sekula to shed some light on its use and function in order to lay a foundation for further inquiry. In his article Dismantling Modernism, Reinventing Documentary (Notes on the Politics of Representation) (1978) Allan Sekula suggests that documentary
photography6 has contributed much to spectacle, to voyeurism, to retinal excitation, to terror, envy and nostalgia and only a little to the critical understanding of the social world. Sekula also proposes a fundamental break from idealist aesthetics and argues to understand the extent to which art redeems a repressive social order7 by offering a wholly imaginable transcendence, a false harmony, to docile and isolated spectators. Sekula's big question is; how do we detangle ourselves from the authoritarian and bureaucratic aspects of the documentary genre, from its implicit positivism? Roberts’ work is somewhat free of the authoritarian and bureaucratic aspects of the genre in that his is a personal vision8, however the representation is enacted on his authority and remains tied to positivism. Documentary photographers, in the traditional sense, photograph the ‘real’ with the intention of delivering an accurate and authentic view of the world. Ideas of construction and interference, of setting up a scene, negate this apparent authenticity and are thus excluded from the practice on this basis alone. In the practice of documentary photography authenticity and its counterpart spontaneity9 have become indicators of truth. We English uses this technique of photographing the ‘real’ in order to secure a view of the English at leisure that is authentic and unquestionable. According to the idea of photographic realism, it is believed that photographs reproduce the visible world independent of human influence, that the camera is a bearer of fact. Therefore, the rhetorical strength of documentary photography is imagined to reside in the unequivocal character of the camera's evidence (Sekula, 1978). But the naturalness of the world as it appears in photographs is a 6 As exemplified by the likes of the Magnum Agency. 7 Although Roberts does not seek to ‘redeem a repressive social order’ the document he has produced
certainly offers a harmonious view of English people in the equally harmonious English landscape and for the most part fails to address current issues around identity in relation to landscape, immigration and nationalism, which make it typical of the work Sekula is talking about in his article. 8 Documentary is thought to be art when it transcends its reference to the world, when the work can be regarded first and foremost as an act of self expression on the part of the artist (Sekula 1978). 9 Photographing a subject without their knowledge of the moment of exposure, that is to say spontaneously, is favourable as it refuses the subject the opportunity to react to the camera. It supports the authenticity of the resulting image, i.e. that it is true to life, that a natural state is a truthful state.
deceit. The only objective truth a photograph offers is the assertion that somebody or something was somewhere and took a picture. Everything else, everything beyond the imprinting of a trace, is up for grabs (Sekula, 1978). What this means is that meaning is always negotiable and dependent on context, i.e. that it is not fixed. Likewise the use of the photographic image is not stable, but subject to distribution between discourses10. Objects presented to the camera are already in use in the production of meanings and as Sekula points out; a photograph far from speaking for itself is always spoken for. By this Sekula means that it is impossible to even conceive of an actual photograph in a free state, unattached to a system of validation and support. Every photograph, however, is characterized by a tendentious rhetoric. This means that all photographs intend to promote a particular point of view or cause through deliberate compositions of subjects/objects, but that these new combinations of subjects/objects, this new rhetoric is only readable in the context of cultural relationships already in existence and know (Sekula, 1978). This familiarity exists, particularly in documentary, because photographs seem to reproduce that which we see, or might see11. John Tagg’s discussion in The Currency of the Photograph (1978), of what he calls ‘double movement in ideological discourse’ offers a theory of how visual representations contribute to constructing and reaffirming our sense of identity, a theory that is certainly of relevance to Roberts’ work12. By photographing the ‘real’ in the accepted documentary manner the photographs themselves promote and become examples of the ideological assumption of a natural order or state of existence. They are then accepted as evidence of this state and at the same time reinforce it,
10 Roberts suggests that We English the book is now a historical document charting English leisure pursuits and landscape conditions of 2007-‐2008, that each image away from the collection works as a stand alone work of art, and that all exist as part of an extended visual anthropological study (see Appendix 1). This convenient diversity of application is characteristic of the genre, and of photography in general. As the photographs move through these different systems of validation and support so the possibility for new readings occurs. 11 The key characteristic of photography that allows ideas of realism and truth to persist is found in its dependence on the physical object present at the moment of exposure. 12 Particularly as an explanation to the difficulty of engaging critically with the content of the images in We English.
ultimately subduing the inclination to challenge what is seen13. Applying ‘double movement’ to We English reveals how amiability and cooperation are insistently stressed throughout the representation, as is the diversity of activity and topography. From this pluralism emerges a unity that hints at a shared nature, that this diversity is only formal and does not belie the existence of a common mould that we can call English.
Figure 1. Simon Roberts 2009, Derwent Water, Keswick, Cumbria, 27th August 2008
Explicit examples of this amiability are seen in the images Derwent Water, Keswick, Cumbria, 27thAugust 2008 (Fig. 1) and Camel Estuary, Padstow, Cornwall, 27th September 2007 (Fig. 2) where landscape users are seen acknowledging each
13 The best example of this phenomenon that I can locate (other than the work in question) is the 1955 exhibition at MOMA in New York The Family of Man, curated by Edward Stiechen. The exhibition used this technique to convince, indeed evidence, and show unquestionably the nature of man. Consider any spread of the catalogue; all contain multiple images from varying cultures and historic times showing the same or similar gestural activities. The strength of these gestural activities and the ideological structures to which they testify (e.g. motherly love, work, family, friendship etc.) overwhelms the historical contexts of the images to the point where they are removed from history and it becomes difficult to question or account for their very differences.
Figure 2. Simon Roberts 2009, Camel Estuary, Padstow, Cornwall, 27th September 2007
Figure 3. Simon Roberts 2009 Dunstanburgh Castle, Embleton, Northumberland, 3rd September 2008
Figure 4. Simon Roberts 2009, Keynes Country Park Beach, Shornecote, Glouestershire, 11th May 2008
other, momentarily enjoying a mutual recognition of themselves in the other. The images Dunstanburgh Castle, Embleton, Northumberland, 3rd September 2008 (Fig. 3) and Keynes Country Park Beach, Shornecote, Glouestershire, 11th May 2008 (Fig. 4) in particular evidence a collective knowledge of how the landscape should be used and reaffirm the cooperative behaviour that is essential in the proposal of a common mould. Considering We English as a collection of images it seems that limitations14, repetition and Roberts’ choice of high fidelity recording equipment work to instil the ‘unequivocal character of the camera’s evidence’ further. 14 By embracing limitations, often self imposed ones, documentary photographers create the possibility for
their images to fit within a concrete discourse situation and therefore to yield a clear semantic outcome. In the case of We English there are several distinct discourse situations within which the images can operate, but this is neither unique to the collection nor unfamiliar to photographic images in general. 14
Chapter 2 Thinking about The Images In so far as visual representations work as Tagg suggests, through double movement, the familiarity and the apparent realism of the photographic image render it a particularly powerful force. Roberts’ desire to harness the power of photography’s discursive nature, to make photographs that encourage the viewer to decode the landscape in order to ‘amplify and extend meaning’ (see Appendix 2, paragraph 7), is particularly well demonstrated in the photograph Mad Maldon Mud Race, River Blackwater, Maldon, Essex, 30th December 2007 (Fig. 5). It might be of interest to consider this particular photograph psychoanalytically15. The presence of the Thistle, aground in the Blackwater 15 Roberts own analysis of the picture focuses on what he sees present in the image. He talks in an objective
and ultimately positive manner about what the image denotes as well as gently touching upon what it connotes. An extension/development of this approach follows; As a picture it is intentionally picturesque. Its graphic quality is in its composition; the placement of the foreground mooring ropes and buoy, in the mid ground the anchor, anchor chain and forestays and the receding perspective offered by the race participants to the small but not insignificant detail of the landscape beyond. The forestays and anchor chain give prominence to the seemingly stylised naval anchor rooted below the centre point of the image, which in turn invokes Britain’s complex Naval History. The Royal Navy have been promoted as the bulwark against social breakdown and the advocates of centuries of global scientific and geographic survey (under Francis Drake were responsible for the first English slave trading expeditions and through James Cook expanded knowledge of the southern hemisphere. I am reminded of the diaries of Samuel Pepys, the English Naval Administrator, written during the English Restoration period and his accounts of the now infamous events of that era). In the background again at the centre of the image can be made out a Redrow housing development project and to the left of that what looks like industrial or perhaps large
River at low tide, may loosely point toward Maldon's past, of the Battle of Maldon between the Vikings and the Anglo Saxons in 991 AD and to the Roman occupation before it and certainly to a maritime past.
Figure 5. Simon Roberts 2009, Mad Maldon Mud Race, River Blackwater, Maldon, Essex, 30th December 2007
agricultural buildings and land. So there exists evidently several examples of land use that imply past and present, but that also represent acquisition and influence. The new houses, although it could be argued that buildings of this type by companies such as Redrow (who ultimately rely on marketing techniques that promote family ideology and the benefits of rural living; from the Redow Website promotion text; 'The Lakes offers you the best of both worlds, combining the peaceful living of a delightful rural waterside location with easy rail links for commuting to London and the South East. These delightful 3,4 and 5 bedroom homes lie on the outskirts of Maldon, with high quality shopping, dining and leisure facilities close-by, while the nearby town of Chelmsford offers an even wider choice of retail and culture.) are outside the categorisation of architecture appear to draw on the Dutch Colonial style with their brick and shiplap clad frontages offering a clear identity heritage and style to their potential occupants. The race itself has moved from the hands of its local creators into the hands of an international institution; the Rotary and Lions Club (the Rotary Club, aka Rotary International, is an organisation of service clubs open to all. It has 32,000 clubs on its books and 1.2 million members worldwide. The stated purpose of the club is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build good will and peace in the world. Only since 1980 have women been allowed membership to the Rotary Clubs). Any proposal that what we see is exclusively English, that is to say free from outside influence, is untenable. This image in particular whilst its seems to evidence the English propensity for eccentric annual tradition really is suggesting something else; that any notion of a modern Englishness is not born on our shores but made through a roaming and explorative historic global presence and an altogether more subtle contemporary international influence.
The mud race was first started in the 1970s by the regular drinkers of The Queens Head and by its third year it was a large well organised and well attended public event. Ever popular, the race is watched by hundreds of people (see Fig. 6), people curiously missing from Roberts’ picture.
Figure 6. clivejharris 2008, flickr, Spectators, Mad Maldon Mud Race
In Roberts’ image (Fig. 5) there is no indication that the view is being shared by hundreds of spectators, and equally photographed by hundreds of cameras. Satisfaction for Roberts is found in the decision not to share the view (i.e. to picture the observing crowds), but to possess it; to present it as exclusively the view of the photographer and therefore of the viewer of the photograph. Thus in terms of representation the scene remains incomplete having instead been invested with visual pleasure; the pleasure of composition. Composition here is the organisation of the view within the photographic frame16, which in Freudian psychoanalysis is a manifestation of the ego's desire in the organisation and control of the imaginary self. The ego then derives pleasure from organising and containing the view (understanding) and from excluding it from others 16
The exclusion or inclusion of ‘details’; the manifesting of the selection process afforded to the photographer.
(possession), which is analogous to the pleasure derived from organising the self. David Bate17 puts it simply; 'The organisation of the picture is identified with a corresponding internalised sense of satisfaction of the ego in the human subject: ‘I have finally organised everything into a unity, it is all in the right place.’’ (Bate, 2009). We English has a number of aspects familiar from the photographer’s previous work Motherland, but on the whole the differences are more significant18. Motherland is the photographic outcome of Roberts’ year long trip across Russia in 2004-‐2005, a study aiming to reveal a sense of common identity in the situation of 'major geo-‐political, economic and social change' (Roberts, 2007). Roberts’ intentions for We English are inline with his intentions for Motherland in that both studies exist to furnish feelings of optimism and beauty and to counter, particularly in the case of Motherland, recent photographic representations of the respective cultures that adopt a critical stance. This position would seem to dictate that the work would then be compliant with the dominant social order. For We English, Roberts, perhaps as an act of heroism, wanted to make 'unashamedly beautiful images'19. The modern notion that beauty in art is something to be ashamed of stems from its passage through avant-‐garde thought and practice in the early part of the 20th century. The avant-‐gardists however were not ashamed of beauty but rather saw it as the manifestation of ideas, ideologies, social practices and cultural hierarchies. Beauty stands in for these conceptual frame works so that when beauty is contested it is not the object that comes in for critique but rather the ideas and ideologies that allow for the assumption of beauty. Generally speaking historically, and prior to the 17 'Photographic representations show that representation can intervene in a spectators belief in reality,
that seeing equals truth but only where the spectator has an investment'. (Bate, 2009). Bate also notes Lacan's proposal that looking can be invested with jealousy. Roberts’ motivation for the project in part was the sense of unity and attachment to the motherland apparently exhibited by the Russians he encountered whilst collecting images for his book Motherland and his desire to replicate this for the English. 18 In particular Roberts’ position as insider in contrast to being and outsider in Russia. 19 Photographers’ Gallery Seminar, 30th September 2009. No need to mention the propensity for ‘beautiful’ imagery to be clichéd and trite.
challenges made to both beauty and art by the avant-‐garde artists of the 20th century, beauty and art were implicated in a complex relationship where beauty was the principle of art, and art beauty's highest calling (Beech, 2009). The resistance to beauty is generally a resistance to bourgeois culture and thus a characteristic of those individuals suspicious of culturally and socially dominant ideas and practices. The Dadaists and Surrealists could not have disrupted the ideals of high society individuals if they had substantiated their differences in a manner that was not in opposition to the style and taste of the bourgeoisie. Roberts’ nostalgia for old aesthetics is evidence of his complicity with dominant ideas. The avant-‐gardists have revealed that if you put beauty into art then the dominant ideas in society are given their privilege. Beauty also exerts a kind of endorsement for certain cultural authorities and social practices. On several occasions in We English20 the English countryside in its diversity is presented as openly picturesque and, in anthropocentric perception, beautiful with no hint at the impossibility of its being coherent, defined, or positive (Taylor, 1994). In the case of the images mentioned here, in particular Southdowns Way, West Sussex, 8th October 2007 (Fig. 7), The Haxey Hood, Haxey, North Lincolnshire, 5th January 2008 (Fig. 8) and Devils Dyke, South Downs, East Sussex, 6th March 2008 (Fig. 9), Roberts recreates the tourist photograph that is analogue of a beautiful world. What is seen here is not an objective recording of the real but an ideological response that is manifest through a highly contrived and selective process. Within this selection of images21 is the notable presence of the Friedrichian individual22 (see Fig. 11) looking out into the romanticised landscape and with it 20 Image number followed by title as it appears in the book;
2. Camel Estuary, Padstow, Cornwall, 27th September 2007 3. Southdowns Way, West Sussex, 8th October 2007 8. The Haxey Hood, Haxey, North Lincolnshire, 5th January 2008 13. Devils Dyke, South Downs, East Sussex, 6th March 2008 14. Tandridge Golf Course, Oxted, Surrey, 2nd April 2008 22. Malvern Hills, Worcestorshire, 17th May 2008 27. Grange Park Opera, Northington Grange, Hampshire, 4th June 2008 41. River Warfe, Skipton, North Yorkshire, 27th July 2008 45. Fountains Fell, Yorkshire Dales, 3rd August 2008 21 See footnote 20. 22 (Casper David Friedrich) As exemplified in his painting ‘Wander Above the Mists’, 1817-‐18. Namely in images 14, 22 and 45. See footnote 20. Refer to Fig. 11.
Figure 7. Simon Roberts 2009, Southdowns Way, West Sussex, 8th October 2007
Figure 8. Simon Roberts 2009, The Haxey Hood, Haxey, North Lincolnshire, 5th January 2008
Figure 9. Simon Roberts 2009, Devils Dyke, South Downs, East Sussex, 6th March 2008
an art historical reference. However, this familiar trope might equally have been carried over from exposure to John Hinde Studios’ postcard images23 from the mid 20th Century (see Fig. 10).
Figure 10. John Hinde Studios postcard images
The extent of the references to and influence of painting on Roberts’ 23 Roberts’ publisher Chris Boot also published a collection of John Hinde Studios postcard images (Our True
Intent is All for Your Delight; The John Hinde Butlins Photographs) in 2002. Boot has also published significant names such as Martin Parr, John Davies and Tony Ray Jones. All prominent individuals in the photographic legacy Roberts sees himself extending.
photographs suggests that of itself photography does not possess the value Roberts seeks for the work. Clear imitation in We English of painterly aesthetics, particularly of the sixteenth and seventeenth century Dutch painters Pieter Bruegel and Hendrick Avercamp, delivers the aesthetic value that Roberts requires of the work, but at the price of institutionalising his images from the outset.
Figure 11. Simon Roberts 2009, Malvern Hills, Worcestorshire, 17th May 2008
Dave Hickey notes in his essay Enter the Dragon: On the Vernacular of Beauty (1993) that; 'The history of beauty, like all histories tells the winners tale; and that tale is told in the great mausoleums where images like Carravagio's Madonna of the Rosary, having done their work in the world, are entombed -‐ and where even hanging in state, they provide us with a ravishing and poignant visual experience. One wonders however, whether our standards for pleasure of art are well founded in the glamorous tristesse we feel in the presence of these institutionalised warhorses, and whether contemporary images are really enhanced by being
institutionalised in their infancy?' (Hickey, quoted in Beech, pg. 27). Hickey here asks an important question that approaches the assumption that contemporary art must have value; aesthetic value, historical value, commercial value – exchange value (Baudrillard, 1968). Roberts, aligned with this value system, suggests that his images reward the viewer who spends time studying each picture (see Appendix 1). This reward would seem to be in the visual experience of the work as well as with the knowledge that Roberts’ proposed close analysis exercises and imparts. Photography’s relation to painting is considered no further than the assumption that it is valuable because of its relation and through imitation assumes some of the credit thereof. However, in making the landscape his subject, in part at least, Roberts is obliged to consider (but not necessarily imitate) the precedents of landscape painting and indeed landscape photography. In terms of landscape, the sea and the horizon are often avoided on the pretext of their visual monotony. The rectilinear form of the horizon in these environments intensifies the flatness of photographs and yields scant and in Roberts’ case formal compositions, inevitably set in three zones; the sky, the sea and the land. In South East Hertfordshire Bird Watchers, Holkham, Norfolk, 17th February 2008 (Fig. 12) the horizon and the horizontal edge of the photographic frame coincide to negate the presence of the frame, to make it invisible so to speak, which is favourable on the grounds that the photograph aims to profess an unmediated access to reality24. In support of photographs there exists an attitude that endorses seeing as a way of understanding and indeed it is seeing which establishes our place in the world. Such is the privilege of sight. With this attitude it is never the photograph that is seen, rather through it is seen what is 24 This negation of the presence of the frame is applicable to the We English images in general (and to
Roberts’ positivist approach to photography on the whole) although this particular composition seems to intensify the effect. Roberts suggests that his images are anthropological studies (as well as works of art) which indicates that the photograph of the thing is the same as the thing itself, that the same knowledge could be achieved through looking at the photograph as could through looking at the thing itself. On this logic the photograph is as real as the thing photographed and photographs deliver an unmediated access to reality.
Figure 12. Simon Roberts 2009, South East Hertfordshire Bird-‐Watchers, Holkham, Norfolk, 17th February 2008
Figure 13. Simon Roberts 2009, West Wittering beach, Chichester, West Sussex, 3rd May 2008
represented. Roberts delivers the landscape in this way particularly in South East Hertfordshire Bird-Watchers, Holkham, Norfolk, 17th February 2008 (Fig. 12), West Wittering beach, Chichester, West Sussex, 3rd May 2008 (Fig. 13) and Salcombe Sands, Devon, 23rd May 2008 (Fig.14) as the setting for leisure activity, although the dominance and coverage given over to its enormity suggest that leisure and activity are insubstantial and fleeting in the greater scheme of things. It is easy to read the composition as symbolic of Roberts’ wider political views, the landscape here being empty and available for unrestricted personal freedom.
Figure 14. Simon Roberts 2009, Salcombe Sands, Devon, 23rd May 2008
Another curiosity in the work is the ubiquity of the elevated vantage point. The decision to use elevated points of view almost exclusively is clearly a practical one assumed by Roberts as the solution to a technical problem of how to achieve the visual coverage he desired. However, Roberts would be mistaken to assume that this perspective is neutral; in fact it becomes pertinent in the reading of his
photographs. At the most basic level elevation is an indication of power25. It follows that an elevated vantage point necessarily bestows (the) power to the holder of that view. Power is then exercised through the gesture of photography; the containment of the view available for repetitive viewing (and in the case of photography, repetitive production).
Figure 15. Simon Roberts 2009, Ladies’ day, Aintree Racecourse, Merseyside, 4th April 2008
Although the image Ladies’ day, Aintree Racecourse, Merseyside, 4th April 2008 (Fig. 15) doesn’t offer the elevated vantage point, it provides a convenient analogy for this simplistic view of the structure of power. Electing not to photograph the event from the privileged position of the Grandstand26 Roberts here finds himself looking up at the physical tier structure whilst sharing his position with the masses, and their detritus, on the ground. The privileged few, those who enjoy the farthest views, occupy the smallest level, which, not by coincidence happens to be at the top of the structure. This image is out of 25 Consider the hoisting of the winner onto the shoulders of supporters, the raising of a flag, the location of
the penthouse and the position of surveillance cameras. 26 Interestingly the stands at Aintree are named after Aristocratic individuals, including the Queen Mother,
Lord Sefton and the Earl of Derby.
keeping with many of the other images in that it seems to be serving an open critique of class structure and class aspirations. The elevated vantage point favoured by Roberts in many of his pictures asserts the authority of his representation and offers an apparent objectivity through the gap subsequently sustained by this position. The literal point of view becomes a sign in this code of connotation equally polysemic in itself. With documentary photographs the viewer always accepts that someone else has chosen the point of view that they then witness themselves. However, Ladies’ Day (Fig. 15) whilst it may seem innocent within the context of the other We English images proves also to be a good example of how, despite the photographer’s intentions, the meanings attributed to photographs are dependent on cultural knowledge held by the person looking at the picture.
In the light of Roberts’ work it is important to note the distinction between nationalist sentiment and nationalism as it is more often referred to; as feelings and manifestations of conflict and separation from the existing state. The use of the term nationalism (and subsequently; nationalist) here refers to nationalist sentiment, which is the feeling of satisfaction aroused by the fulfillment of nationalist principle. According to Ernst Gellner in Nations and Nationalism (1983) this is the principle of homogenous cultural units as the foundations of life, and of the obligatory unity of rules and the ruled (Gellner, 1983). On consideration it seems impossible that a person could be without nationality, for this state of nationlessness defies the understanding of recognised categories of being. Although having a nation is not an inherent attribute of humanity, it has come to appear as such (Gellner, 1983). Nationalism is inscribed neither in the nature of things, nor in the hearts of people, nor in the pre-‐conditions of social life in general (Gellner, 1983). The condition that it is so inscribed is a false hood which nationalist doctrine has succeeded in presenting as self evident.
Nationalism holds that the nation should be congruent27 and that any idea of a nation or nationalism is inconceivable without the existence of a centre for power. However, modern humans are not loyal to a monarch, a land or even a faith. They are loyal to culture (Gellner, 1983). Identity then for members of modern industrial society is based on culture28 and culture itself becomes a centre for power.
Figure 16. Cover image, We English (2009).
Like We English nationalism also reflects and expresses the centrality of standardised culture in society, which it also validates29. This validation allows people to function, but this is not to say that this validated culture is the only possibility. Nationalism appears to be a unifying process, as demonstrated through Roberts’ 27 An attitude clearly demonstrated by the images in We English. 28
Unlike members of Agrarian societies of the past where roles were cast and last a lifetime; priest, aristocrat, peasant, king etc. 29 Photography can become a powerful tool in realising nationalist aims in that it reinforces what it reflects through the process John Tagg describes as double movement in ideological discourse, briefly discussed in Chapter 1.
title icon. The cover of the book (see Fig. 16) displays an outline of England as if physically separate30 from the inseparable31 countries of Wales and Scotland. The St George’s Cross32 descends over the territory emblazoned with the words 'We English' indicating an English Nationalist persuasion. Roberts mentions wanting to wrestle33 the English flag away from the nationalists who revel in ideas of superiority and separation. But this is a difficult move open to misinterpretation and the mis-‐association of what is now seen as a nationalist icon more readily than a national emblem. The content is not so overtly political or controversial and offers only a nationalist sentiment. Roberts has recognised that today’s generation has little affiliation with Great Britain and a desire to discover themselves as 'English'. Consequently he cites the devolution of Scotland and Wales as a motivating, and it can be assumed a reactionary, if not dictating, political factor in his quest for an aspect of 'Englishness'. However, the issue of devolution is complex and somewhat contradictory34. Devolution it seems has created an anomaly, for despite some semblance of independence for Scotland and Wales, England is liable to their influence and this will continue as long as a UK Parliament is the chosen form of Government for England. So, as far as the English are concerned, any idea of England without Scotland or Wales can only exist physically, through the agreed 30 Roberts here uses ideas of separation and difference as a unifying device, a ‘them and us’ scenario. 31 Physically and currently politically despite devolution. 32 The English and Welsh flag since 1277, the Welsh only adopting a flag of their own as recently as 1959. 33 Again perhaps heroically. 34 As it stands The National Assembly for Wales (established in 1998) possesses the power to determine
how the government budget for Wales is spent and administered, but Wales does not have full law making powers and this means that English laws still apply. On the other hand the Scottish Parliament (established 1998) has powers to make primary legislation in certain devolved areas of policy as well as some limited tax varying powers, but still the UK government has control of certain 'reserved' areas of policy. Both the National Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament were created by the Labour party on its appointment to office in 1997 and justified on the basis that the respective populations of Wales and Scotland felt alienated from Westminster, largely because of the policies of the previous two conservative governments, those of John Major and Margaret Thatcher. There exists as a consequence of the devolution of Scotland and Wales for England what is referred to as the West Lothian Question, which, in brief, questions for how long will the English tolerate at least 119 Honourable Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on English politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? However, under the current set up where both the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling represent Scottish constituencies, English votes for English laws would mean exclusion from voting for the heads of the leading party in UK Parliament.
borders of territory and certainly not politically and therefore culturally35. Devolution, as Roberts expresses through his rhetoric and photographic work, prompts consideration of the end of Britain and subsequently the end of Empire. For Roberts what matters now is what it means to be English, for what it meant to be British no longer exists36. A proposed return to the past however, is only a search for reassurance and confirmation. This act would be directly consistent with the everyday experience that in seemingly abstruse ways life is unsettling, dislocated and mediocre. Recognising that heritage, as an adjunct of nationality, is exclusive (i.e. in this case that is English) might also encourage nostalgia for the past, for a return to those more certain times when people knew their place. Heritage celebration, a position We English comfortably assumes, might then become a form of continuous deference in a nation still nostalgic about class distinctions and hierarchies. Gellner’s study reveals that the wish to save England and present it in one of its past forms is a powerful and motivating force in the country. Indeed the conservative view, in which the past is held to be in some ways preferable or superior to the present, should not be dismissed as archaic or outmoded (Gellner, 1983). Gellner suggests this conservatism is useful in galvanizing individuals to achieve a certain political state and to exercise nostalgic sentiment in the favour of nationalism. Conservatives37 and nationalists both wish to revere and respect the concrete realities of the past and seldom subject these realities to reason or inquiry. Roberts’ position as an uncritical and optimistic photographer potentially places him within these political orientations. In a blog post from April 2008 (see Appendix 2, paragraph 6) Roberts discloses his desire to make ‘nuanced and beautiful, even elegiac’ images of England. This seems to evidence Gellner’s proposal and suggest that Roberts intends to resurrect an image of England from those more certain times. This is further supported in the same blog post with the statement; 35 The cultural differences, though evident, are perhaps only equatable to the cultural differences between
the English Counties. 36 Britishness is now something else, perhaps something particular English people do not want. 37 Conservatives hold traditional attitudes and values generally, and are wary of innovation and change.
‘I am interested in the reality of an England at this time of rapid social and cultural flux but am not seeking to overturn stereotyped images of traditional English scenes.’ (Roberts, 2008. See Appendix 2, paragraph 7) This position is rather difficult in that the ‘reality’ of England may very well require that stereotypes are overturned and that ‘long-‐held mental images’ (see Appendix 2, paragraph 7) of England are no longer applicable or viable, even as apparently legitimate representations. This tendency in wanting to read the present in terms of the established imagery of the past, particularly through traditional ‘English’ imagery is something John Kippin sought to examine in his work Nostalgia for the Future (1995). Kippin’s image Prayer Meeting, Windermere (Fig. 17) is interesting as a counterpoint to Roberts’ image Stanage Edge, Hathersage, Derbyshire, 3rd August 2008 (Fig. 19).
Figure 17. John Kippin 1995, Prayer Meeting, Windermere
Kippin provokes the idyllic myth of countryside culture and exclusivity through the new combination of familiar imagery and foreign act. A glance at the image
might indulge familiar imagery and suggest that the group is picnicking, as if in Roberts’ image Paul Herrington’s 50th Birthday, Grantcester, Cambridgeshire, 15th June 2008 (Fig. 18), but a closer look reveals that the women and children of the Muslim group are separate from the men who are engaged in prayer.
Figure 18. Simon Roberts 2009, Paul Herrington’s 50th Birthday, Grantcester, Cambridgeshire, 15th June 2008
It may well be that the group has congregated by the lake for social reasons, as is customary for visitors to Lake Windermere, and that the requirements of the Islamic religion mean that prayer takes place at specific times and not in specific places. This is negligible because of what the photographer pictures; the photograph shows the group immersed in a cultural act peculiar to another land against the backdrop of the famous Cumbrian lake. The lake here signifies Englishness and an England at peace with itself. In Roberts’ photograph of a Muslim couple descending a rocky peak, Stanage Edge (Fig. 19), the cultural difference is signified by costume and not by gesture. Conveniently Roberts’
Figure 19. Simon Roberts 2009, Stanage Edge, Hathersage, Derbyshire, 3rd August 2008
Muslims here enjoy the countryside in the same manner38 that is seen throughout the We English images allowing him to confirm again the existence of a common mould that we can call English. If nationalism necessitates a certain cultural congruity Roberts has certainly evidenced that here. His photograph39 (Fig. 19) presents an act of submission of one culture to another, thereby affirming the dominance of the white middle class attitude toward how the countryside is used and seen. Roberts’ diversity is comforting and affirmative of the idea of an England he seeks to promote, Kippin's provocative and disruptive of an assumed stability of place in relation to identity and meaning. Roberts is operating in the knowledge of John Kippin’s photograph and also in the knowledge of Ingrid Pollard’s Pastoral Interludes (1987), a work that approaches 38 The couple, from Leicester, were on a walking holiday exploring the English countryside and professed to
Roberts that they felt completely at ease in the countryside. See Roberts’ commentary on pg. 58 of We English. 39 Interestingly Roberts has charged the image with a challenge to the stereotype that suggests that the English countryside is dominated by the white middle classes, on the contrary and in relation to the other images in the book it merely confirms the stereotype.
notions of difference and cultural identity in relation to the British landscape critically and with considerable insight. Indeed she finds no slackening of white hegemony in the countryside (Taylor, 1994). By admirably presenting a (albeit superficial) joining of hands, perhaps Roberts is attempting to dismiss latent political tensions between Islamic factions and so called ‘Western’ ideals, whilst simultaneously presenting the countryside and countryside culture as the emblem of the nation40. Perhaps erroneously, Roberts seems to be stating that the leisure ideals he focuses on throughout his representation are valid for all English people. Turning them into effective norms, he thereby satisfies the nationalist imperative; the congruence of culture and polity. 40 Perhaps Roberts is also suggesting that these notions of difference and assumptions about countryside
culture commented on by Kippin and Pollard are no longer relevant and that pervasive ideological assumptions about the countryside in relation to identity have been resolved to the degree where the signifiers of ‘other’ cultures, such as the garments of the couple in Stanage Edge (Fig. 19) are all but invisible and equally do not belie the existence of that common mould that we can call English.
In Conclusion If it were Roberts’ aim to document those leisure destinations and types that have shaped his own experience of this aspect of English life then I would think he had been successful. The aim however, is that We English represents the people of England. Nationalism tends to treat itself as a manifest and self evident principle that defends continuity and cultural diversity when in fact it imposes homogeneity and owes everything to the significant break in history that led to industrial development and subsequently a mass culture (Gellner, 1983). We English clearly occupies nationalist territory in its choice to represent a nation, the narrowness of which contributes to forging a high culture and building an anonymous mass society where thin secular idealism becomes the dominant attitude to life. It procures for the individual viewer the instantaneous view of a great multitude, and far from reveling in the defiant individual will, delights in feelings of submission and incorporation in a continuous entity greater, more persistent and more legitimate than the isolated self.
It is perhaps unfair to suggest that the work is aiming at presenting England in one of its past forms, however the lack of acknowledgement to the (then) current state politically and socially is conspicuous at the very least. The conditions of life in England, not excluding easily forgettable international activities, at the time of writing, work to make Roberts’ photographs seem absurd on the one hand and compelling on the other. The wealthy (those leisure and pleasure seeking figures seen in We English) it seems can pass their lives without contact with the rest of society, emulating the noble idleness of hunter-‐gatherers, the pressure to maintain social cohesion only slightly felt. When such an overtly nostalgic description of England is given such coverage one can only assume it to be testament to unstable and uncertain times. Photography as used by Roberts gives the impression that a given idea (nationalism) happens to be there. And it is for this reason that photography used in this way is an adequate medium for patriotic reaffirmation, but only for the unthinking individual. Mindfully Allan Sekula asks a more pertinent and challenging question; how do we elicit an art that produces dialogue rather than uncritical, pseudo political affirmation? (Sekula, 1978)
Appendix 1 Brief Interview with Simon Roberts 7th January 2010 Answers to your questions as promised. You might be interested in watching this video on Lens Culture, which I recently conducted, it may help with some of the questions below-‐ http://www.lensculture.com/roberts-‐video.html 1. Would you accept being described as a conservative traditionalist, and what does this label mean to you? I don’t subscribe to any particular labels, which are usually reductive in any case. I suppose you could describe my photographic approach as traditional, in the sense that I use a 5x4 plate camera, film and engage in very little digital post production. And from the outset of the We English project I was certain that I didn’t want to make any overtly political statements (which is not to say that I don’t have political views -‐ I do, and they’re certainly not conservative! -‐ or have undertaken / or intend undertaking ‘oppositional photography’).
My photographic gaze was certainly not as critical as some of the work done by British photographers before and I didn’t want it to be. By choosing leisure as my thematic approach, the work was always going to take a more celebratory stance. You could say that the work is an ode to England, or rather, my attempt to try and discover where and how the English feel connected to their homeland. It’s a quiet body of work, which rewards the viewer who spends time studying each picture carefully. 2. What conclusions did you draw from your dissertation study and what impact, if any, did this have on your photographic works, particularly 'We English'? This blog post on We English should help-‐ http://we-‐english.co.uk/blog/?p=664 3. Is 'We English' photography or art, or both? Or is it a commercial product? Are these ideas mutually exclusive? I view the book as a whole as a historic document, which maps the socio-‐cultural landscape of England in 2008 through photographic representation. I do think my photography is art and believe that every single image in We English works as a stand-‐alone piece of art. And of course, the project was also a commercial enterprise, but economic considerations are always secondary to the artistic aims and ideas of a project. 4. You say you did not want to be derivative of the work of the British photographers who went before you, but there are clear examples in 'We English' that suggest otherwise. How do you account for this? You would have to give me specific examples of British photographers that you think have influenced We English, but I am sure there are several photographers whose work has inspired me, whether consciously or unconsciously and that inspiration will inevitably filter down into some of my work. I think it is quite right that one’s work can be located within a much broader context and shows an awareness and appreciation of what has gone before. However, it nonetheless has to be doing something new and offering new ways of seeing the world. I believe that when viewed in its entirety, We English is uniquely different to any other photographic account made by British photographers in the past.
5. Your work is remarkably similar to Peter Bialobrzeski's 'Hiemat' and I am also reminded of Massimo Vitali's beach photographs. You also cite Dutch painters as an influence. Do you see any problems with using this European style to represent the English? My approach to We English was born out of a single photograph I took in Russia called ‘Victory Day Picnic, Yekaterinburg’ – see attached. I was struck by the relationship between the consolations of groups of people and their relationship to one another, alongside the setting of this traditional Russian scene, which evokes the backdrop to many early Russian landscape painting – the muted colours, silver birch forest and slightly melancholy feel. I was particularly interested in the small details and signifiers that you pick up once you invest time studying the photograph – such as the balloons pinned to the tree, and a few burst balloons that have got caught in branches. I very much wanted to explore my only country using a similar photographic approach taking large panoramas of the landscape, which were populated with individuals or groups of people. Interestingly this Yekaterinburg photograph was taken in May 2005, around the same time that Bialobrzeski was producing his work for 'Hiemat' (which published in late 2005). While I’m certainly interested in the work of European photographs (such as Gursky’s early work, Joachim Brohm’s photographs on the Ruhr area of Germany from the late 1970s and Alfred Seiland’s work on his homeland of Austria in the 1980s) I’d say I’ve been more influenced by the work of the American colour landscape photographers such as Shore and Sternfeld. I don’t feel that my photography sits within a purely European style, in fact there are all manner of references in my work from cultural geography and anthropology to popular culture and British landscape painting. I certainly don’t have any problem using the approach I did to represent the English. End.
Appendix About We English – Blog post by Roberts dated April 1st 2008 1 We English aims to be a rich, extensive and nuanced corpus of images that help create a new dialogue in the photographic analysis of contemporary English society and the challenging notion of Englishness, and which extends a rich history of British photographers documenting their homeland. 2 After spending two years producing a book about Russia and Russian identity (Motherland published by Chris Boot) began in turn to think about my own homeland and about the concept of Englishness and all its complexities. 3 We English will be a sustained photographic documentation of England in 2008. My aim is to create a photographic journal of life, specifically documenting landscapes where groups of people congregate for a common purpose and shared experience. It will be about what people do in their spare time, their leisure pursuits and pastimes and how people derive meaning and identity from these activities. It will also be about people’s relationship with their environment, whether their immediate surroundings are urban or rural. Recreation will provide the basis for a wider exploration of people’s attachment to place and the way in which the inhabitants of England derive meaning and identity from everyday events and activities. The project will focus on events that take place on a local level and at locations where everyday rituals are played
out. (While traditional communities have weakened, our attachment to locality remains strong and provides an important expression of identity.) 4 Logistically, We English will take the form of a series of journeys around England in a motorhome (the main journey being from April until September when I will be joined by my wife and daughter). The journeys will be based on my own research together with ideas sourced via this website where I’m encouraging you, the general public to post details about events and share information about your ideas on the notion of Englishness and how it relates to you. This collaboration will be important in dealing with the complex issues surrounding notions of cultural representation and will also enable me to access a broader spectrum of themes and geographical locations. Moreover, We English will be a pilgrimage of sorts, where I will seek out those places that I believe have helped shaped my own feelings of Englishness. 5 The project will extend, and reflect upon, a history of documentary photographic projects and the variety of approaches that British photographers have utilised to capture the lives of diverse communities across the country and explore issues surrounding national identity and the constantly shifting notion of Englishness. The long and rich tradition of British photographers documenting their homeland, some of which could be seen in the recent exhibition at Tate Britain ‘How We Are – Photographing Britain,’ has seen work produced by the likes of Humphrey Spender, Bill Brandt, Tony Ray Jones, Ingrid Pollard, Martin Parr, John Davies and Jem Southam to name a few. However, the past decade has seen relatively little work produced by British photographers. 6 We English will draw on aspects of human geography and on cultural geography, particularly. Since landscape has long been used as a commodity, an aesthetic amenity that is there to be consumed, it makes sense to use leisure activities, no matter how banal they might appear, as a way into an exploration of England’s shifting cultural and aesthetic identity. Whilst I hope to produce images that are nuanced and beautiful, even elegiac, they will nonetheless explore that ways in which landscape can also become a place of conflict, a place where received ideas about nationhood and quintessential Englishness are challenged. 7 I am interested in the reality of an England at this time of rapid social and cultural flux but am not seeking to overturn stereotyped images of traditional
English scenes. (This has already been admirably achieved by John Kippin, Ingrid Pollard and others.) We English will yield contemporary visions of my country that recognise the narrowness of long-‐held mental images of England and explore the ambiguities and complexities of our place within the world around us in a manner that amplifies and extends meaning.
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http://www.foto8.com/new/component/search/Simon%2Broberts/%252F?or dering=&searchphrase=all http://www.whatsthejackanory.com/2009/09/mad-‐dogs-‐and-‐englishmen/ http://www.lensculture.com/roberts_english.html http://www.ahornmagazine.com/simon_roberts.html http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/aug/22/english-‐leisure-‐simon-‐roberts http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/photoblog/2009/10/the_english_at_leisure.html http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/2009/10/review_we_english_by_simon_roberts.h tml http://www.southhillpark.org.uk/exhibitiondetail.jsp?id=9017&range=all http://www.bjp-‐online.com/public/showPage.html?page=871249 http://www.foto8.com/new/online/interviews/1012-‐simon-‐roberts-‐host-‐ podcast http://www.lensculture.com/webloglc/mt_files/archives/2009/12/beauty-‐of-‐ photobooks.html http://www.lensculture.com/roberts-‐video.html http://www.flickr.com/groups/onthestreet/discuss/72157621992737841/?sea rch=we+english http://we-‐english.co.uk/index.html http://we-‐english.co.uk/blog/ General Internet Research Sources http://www.johndavies.uk.com/ http://news.parliament.uk/2009/05/report-‐on-‐devolution-‐and-‐the-‐ governance-‐of-‐england/ http://www.opendemocracy.net/arts-‐photography/british_landscape_3710.jsp http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/ http://motherlandbook.com/ http://www.inliquid.com/Fotophile/45/henry2.htm (Ingrid Pollard) http://www.d-‐log.info/britishphotography.pdf http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-‐index.htm http://www.massimovitali.com/
http://www.rotaryfirst100.org/presidents/2009kenny/index.htm http://www.redrow.co.uk/developments/the-‐lakes/ http://www.uturn.org/Essays/GRUNDpdf.pdf http://johnkippin.com/ http://www.jca-‐online.com/burgin.html Image Sources All We English images from;
Prayer Meeting, Windermere (Fig. 17);
John Hinde Studios images (Fig. 10);
from own source
Cover image We English (Fig. 16);
Word count 5708
undergraduate dissertation by Peter Venner 2010 BA (Hons) Contemporary Photographic Arts Practice. Northbrook College, Sussex.