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Commanding views: from the Library of Birmingham’s public gallery

On show: A high-tech advertising board gives details of Daniel Meadows’ exhibition

Eye-catching exterior: the Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013

Photographer’s entire works to be presented to library archive Report: SHONA WALL Images: STEWART WALL StewartWall.com

“His work touched us at the time and it touches us still”

H

OW MANY times have you watched a TV antiques show and thought, “I used to have one of those”?

Most of us go through life without a thought about our place in history. We don’t think that one day we might enter a museum and see on show the type of crockery we used, or the chairs we sat on, or the clothes we wore. If we preserved all our todays for tomorrows, we would probably run out of storage space. If you have been a photographer for a long time, you might be thinking to yourself that the negs you shot as a teenager are probably up in the attic somewhere. Or it could be you know for certain that they are not, because they all got damaged in

Testing, testing: Jack Meadows adjusts the microphone for Professor Val Williams

In good spirits: Daniel Meadows delivers his speech with characteristic dry wit

that leak you had five years ago. One remarkable feature of photographer Daniel Meadows is that he always had a sense of his place in history. “When you are

took sound recordings of the people he photographed too. He wrote a book about his experiences: Living Like This: Around Britain in the Seventies, and has

having your photograph taken, you are looking into the faces of your great-grandchildren,” he told me once. Daniel is best known for his

tour of Britain in the 1970s on a double decker bus. He lived on the bus and photographed more than 900 people around Britain in a 14-month tour. He

had that work – and many more - exhibited numerous times. Daniel, who has also worked for the BBC and has been a longtime lecturer of photography

at Newport, has revisited his Photographic Omnibus project several times in his lifetime. But one aspect of the project was always immediately apparent, and

that was his talent for documentation from the very beginning. It was as though he always knew that history would add weight upon the value of his capacity for detail. He has always been a remarkable photographer, but he is also a remarkable historian. He credits two other photographers as being his inspiration. One was Tony Ray-Jones, who died in 1972 aged 30, the other was Sir John Benjamin Stone, a Birmingham MP and photographer who died in 1914. Benjamin Stone made a comprehensive photographic record Continued on Page 2


Curator’s tribute to work of Daniel Meadows From Page 1

of festivals and pageants in Britain. Much of his work is stored at the Library of Birmingham. Soon, Daniel Meadows will share the same accolade as Sir John Benjamin Stone. His entire archives are also to be stored at the recently built library, a collection which he attributed to “happenstance, circumstance and serendipity” at the launch of an exhibition of his early works at the library on May 15, 2014. Those who have not visited the new Library of Birmingham or followed its progress should take note of its potential to become a major tourist destination. The £188 million building replaced the Birmingham Central Library when it opened in September 2013. It is a dazzling edifice, both inside and out, with a circular mesh to its exterior and a dizzying array of new technology in the interior. It is the largest public library in the UK, and the largest public cultural space in Europe. It stands nine storeys high with public viewing galleries on the 3rd, 7th, and 9th floors. Neonlit giant escalators criss-cross through a large tall rotunda lined with shelf after shelf of books – almost like a giant cauldron of knowledge. The library has also been awarded £162,000 to create a hub for photographers. The photography hub project is called Grain. The exhibition at the library was the culmination of a 10-year project between Daniel Meadows, Pete James, Curator of Photography Collections at the library, and Professor Val Williams, of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre, affiliated to the University of the Arts in London. Prof Williams, a professor of the history and culture of photography, was curator of the touring exhibition of early works by Daniel Meadows and wrote an associated book, Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs From the '70s and '80s, published by

Early work: a panel showing some of portraits taken at Daniel Meadows’ studio in Moss Side

Friends: Paul Hill, left, chats to Daniel Meadows

Above, Daniel Meadows’ wife and son, Georgie and Jack, with friends. Right: a panel of Daniel’s work Left: Friends chat at the launch of the exhibition

Spectacular: Circular bookshelves at the Library of Birmingham look like a giant cauldron Photoworks. Her own archives have also been presented to the Library of Birmingham. The launch was well-attended. Guests included Daniel’s wife Georgie and their three sons Harry, Luke and Jack, who all

work in creative industries themselves. Also attending was well-known contemporary photographer Paul Hill and Chris Dillinger, the founder of Square magazine, and representatives from the Transport

Museum at Wythall, where the bus that Daniel used for his tour is undergoing restoration. Val Williams and Pete James gave short speeches, with Prof Williams saying of Daniel: “His work touched us at the time and

it touches us still.” Mr James added: “I hope he will continue to be an inspiration to a generation of photographers to come.” Besides being a remarkable photographer and chronicler, Daniel has a talent for

writing and public speaking, with a dry wit and a deadpan delivery. He gave a short speech, and this quote is typical of his style: “The story of working with Pete’s an interesting one. A modern fable of patience

and care and being in it for the long haul... something very rare these days and especially so in our shallow world of celebrity and tinsel where a life’s work can be analysed, commodified, sanitised, pasteurised, sterilised,

fetishized, conceptualised, advertised, finalised and spat out across the cybersphere... all before breakfast.” There probably weren’t many students who dozed during his lectures.

Daniel Meadows Early Photographic Works At The Library Of Birmingham  

Daniel Meadows: Early Photographic Works A Retrospective Exhibition of the British Photographer 16 May - 17 August, The Gallery, Library of...

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