Sunday Preview. Three stories we offer next week

This week we invite you to discover England with these three very different points of view.

Scenic portraits of chefs from Chinatown back alleys. An in-depth study of contemporary England, its society, and life. Holiday scenes from the seashore of the UK at the times of breaching pandemics.

Jan Enkelmann: Smoking Chefs

Monday, 06 Dec

© Jan Enkelmann | Smoking Chefs

Jan Enkelmann found “sanctuaries of quietness and contemplation” in the back alleys of Chinatown in London’s West End. He would sometimes have a cigarette with the exhausted chefs early in the morning or late at night when they had been working for hours on end and photograph the moment. Other times they would be completely unaware of his presence, yet he thinks of the smoking chefs as kindred spirits — some of them would barely speak any English and work ungodly hours just to survive.

The images are absolutely superb — dramatic, bearing cinematic aesthetics, and exquisitely photographed from a technical point of view. The project is a testimony to the demands and stress that modern life imposes on us — these short breaks are vital for staff, who might already be at a breaking point.

John Angerson: English Journey

Wednesday, 08 Dec

© John Angerson | English Journey

The book “English Journey” by the Bradford author J. B. Priestley was published in 1934 it was an account of his travels across England. It’s a study of contemporary England at the time and its influence had reached far beyond the literary world. It’s claimed that it has influenced writers, such as George Orwell, but also photographers like Bill Brandt and even some of the policies of the 1945 Labour government.

John Angerson’s “English Journey” embraces the spirit of the book and is guided by its subtitle — “Being a rambling but truthful account of what one man saw, and heard, and felt, and thought during a journey through England.” The project looks at the homogenisation and so-called Americanisation of society that seems to have found its way all across England.

“The England I discovered is manufacturing less and has become highly reliant on technology. Celebrity culture and its media stronghold are fast becoming a national obsession. The perceived threat of global terrorism means new laws have been created curtailing the freedom to photograph in public places and PR departments are increasingly stringent as to how their organisations are portrayed.”

— John Angerson

Alexandru Micu: Beyond the sea

Friday, 10 Dec

© Alexandru Micu | Beyond the sea

The photographer calls the seaside towns an ecosystem of their own. They were “left to decay in disarray after the democratisation of holidays in the 1970s and 80s and never really recovered since. They are ruins that also have a sense of Britishness not seen anywhere else.”

The photographs were shot on Kodak film and are soft, calming, almost serene. One wouldn’t be able to tell that there was a global pandemic unraveling — a true demonstration of the well-known throughout the world British stiff upper lip. Keep calm and carry on. Keep calm and build sandcastles, eat ice cream, have a dip in the sea. On the surface, the images show typical holiday scenes. When coupled with the context in which they were photographed, though, they become so much more than that. Micu’s pictures are documents of a year hopefully never to be repeated again in our lifetime.

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