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Mass Observation Exhibition

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Event: -
This is Your Photograph
Humphrey Spender, this is your photo, mass observation, the photographer's gallery, graffiti
Humphrey Spender, 'Graffiti', 1937/38

Back in 1937, a group of people decided to start a Mass Observation experiment; the project aimed to capture the social realities of everyday life, so one day they could be rediscovered. That day has come. In an exhibition held at The Photographer's Gallery, The Mass Observation Archives presents This is Your Photo. They have unearthed photos, ephemera, documents, and other written accounts, which focus on the World War Two Years and beyond. The data collected gives insight into people's political views, fear of spies, happiness levels, attitude toward art, as well as their sexual and shopping habits.

The exhibition is free to visitors up until the 29th September, and work includes that of artists such as William Coldstream and Julian Trevelyan, the filmmaker, Humphrey Jennings, and photographer, Humphrey Spender, who was well known for taking picture of the working class in Blackpool and Bolton.

Observations were made across a broad range of different lifestyles, which can bee see in work by John Hinde, whose pictures include Exmoor Village and British Circus Life.

In 1981, Mass Observation turned into a writing project, and focussed on the anecdotes of individuals. Their written accounts detail the average activity of their daily life, political views, and is accompanied by some amateur photography.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Until 29th Sept
Phone: 44 (0)20 7087 9300
Where: The Photographers' Gallery
Cost: Free
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