So here is Middle England, a book of photographs by John Myers, an English photographer who remained widely unknown, until the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham decided to show his work in 2011. He was quite active during the 70’s and mainly interested in social issues. According to him, his work can be divided in some main categories: portraits, televisions, substations, houses, furniture stores and my absolute favorite one: boring photos.
He used to work with a large format camera, so his portraits, mainly shot inside are carefully staged. People are often at home and always looking straight to the camera with mixed feelings going from proudness to shyness. We feel a strong empathy for the models who seem to accept to give some of their inner feelings to the camera. Maybe because he lived in Stourbridge and was teaching Fine Arts at Stourbridge College, and all his portraits were people he knew and who lived at a walking distance from his home.
If you consider his other series, you can understand that he was a sort of pioneer of contemporary photography. His series « Televisions » comprises 10 photographs combined together. The camera parallel to the screen, it becomes a documentary series about the place of televisions in everyone’s interior. It is 70’s dated, but it would be interesting to do a similar series nowadays. I also very appreciate his different series as they all share a sense of minimalism in the point of view. No sophistication, no extraordinary, but simply all we have in front of us everyday, with a kind of accomplishment with the series « Boring photos » (and by the way, far before what martin Parr will work on his boring postcards). In this series, John Myers concentrate his attention to all those “non events”, and “no places” in which we all live. Our attention mainly drawn to the important part of a stage that we often forget to look, in the backstage, where we discover the thickness of things scattered in all those little corners. Something we could call the real life brought to us by the eye of John Myers without whom, we could have missed a part of our own story !
You should really consider discovering John Myers’ work, a not known enough representative of the social English documentary, besides the most known Chris Killip, Paul Graham and Martin Parr among others.
It is quite hard to find his books, this one was published in 2011 and a new one is announced at Cornerhouse publishing very soon: http://www.cornerhousepublications.org/catalogue/artists/john-myers/
“Photobook of the Month” is curated by Christer Ek (Christophe Le Toquin) of “Who needs another photo blog“, a blog where he shares some thoughts about photography. Christer is a French photographer and also a photobook collector.