Chris Steele-Perkins: In Brixton
Celebrated Magnum Photographer Chris Steele-Perkins has travelled the world taking photographs of people and places for nearly five decades. Born in Burma he came to the UK with his father aged two. Moving to London after graduating from Newcastle University he began working as a freelance photographer.
By 1976 he had joined the VIVA agency in Paris and later in 1979 Magnum Photos, the same year that his critically acclaimed series The Teds was published. This now critically acclaimed first monograph is a perfect example of his approach to any subculture, both immersive, non-judgemental and in-depth.
During the early part of his career social issues, urban poverty and subcultures in the UK were the main focus of his work. Once joining Magnum Photos he travelled further afield into the developing world, specifically Africa, Central America and Lebanon. However, he continued to photograph Britain throughout.
In the early 1970’s at the very beginning of his career Chris was living in Brixton, which served as his base for over 30 years. Although his work took him to many further climbs he would document many of Brixton’s inhabitants, cultural and social events depicting the vitality and diversity of a community he was proud to be a part of. Taken in 1973 – 1995 these extraordinary photographs show the rich cultural heritage of his local neighbourhood. We see intimate moments in ordinary peoples lives – both private and public, young and old – at work, at worship and at play.
Residents enjoying Brixton’s cultural and community landmarks such as Brixton Lido, music venues like The Enterprise, the iconic Desmond’s Hip City record shop, Brixton Market and pubs such as The Coach and Horses are featured.
Nearly all the people in this exhibition lived in Brixton, with one notable exception. Margaret Thatcher’s visit to Brixton Market in 1978 is a reminder of troubled political times. In the same year an anti-Nazi demonstration is also depicted with a mass of policeman amidst protestors and their placards.