Go back to the 1970s at photo exhibition in Luton

Nicola and Donny Osmond, a 1973 work by John Myers
Nicola and Donny Osmond, a 1973 work by John Myers

Remarkable yet little-known photographs presenting a tableau of life in the 1970s go on show at the Hat Factory in Luton this week.

John Myers’ black-and-white portrait and landscape photography of the West Midlands is now attracting significant critical attention after going almost unnoticed for over 30 years.

The work depicts the housing estates, blocks of flats, cul-de-sacs, garages and electricity substations that populated his local area. Myers’ vision is nostalgic, portraying the streets of Britain in the 1970s and the economic dislocation of the early 1980s.

The exhibition includes eight poignant industrial landscapes, never previously exhibited, which capture the rapid transition following the collapse of British manufacturing in the early 1980s. The West Midlands, and particularly The Black Country, were particularly badly hit as “smoke stack” industries and the architecture associated with them were replaced with vast modern distribution units and retail parks.

Drawing on his work as a lecturer at Stourbridge College of Art, Myers’ approach to photography was inspired by the simple forms and muted palette of minimalist sculpture. Although his work is thoroughly English in feel, Myers was a contemporary of American landscape photo-graphers including Stephen Shore, Lewis Baltz and Robert Adam.

A spokesman for Luton Culture, which is staging the exhibition at the Hat Factory, said: “In addition to the pictures’ conceptual purity, Myers’ work also represents a remarkable panorama of Britain in the 1970s.”

The exhibition, titled The World is Not Beautiful, runs from Friday, February 24, to Saturday, April 29. Visit www.lutonculture.com for details.