Exhibition Review: Didn’t We Have a Lovely Time

Photographers Gallery – Print sales gallery, until 31. August


Didn’t we Have a Lovely Time… is a group exhibition featuring work of John Hide, Simon Roberts, Luke Stephenson, Nicholas Hughes and Mike Perry, celebrating the British seaside. The exhibition is presented in the Print sales gallery of the Photographers Gallery where we find varied presentations of responses to the seaside, with all the classical elements; piers, ice creams and fun fairs.

John Hinde seems to have set the standard of British holiday photography with his postcard series form the 1950s, and we are invited to the exhibition with one of his saturated fun fair images; this one a lot more lively than the green country side scenes we usually see. Although hoping to see some original postcards displayed, the image is refreshing and gives us another reminder of what a unique photographer he was.

Further, we see two of Simon Robert’s images from the series Pierdom, documenting Britain’s remaining piers. These images seem to show a quieter and less active part of the popular holiday destinations. The possibly darkly ironic title of the exhibition almost suggests exactly that; that the time of enjoyment at the seaside belongs to the past. The human absence in the exhibition proposes a somewhat nostalgic feeling about what used to be.

© Simon Roberts, Brighton Palace Pier #B, from the series Pierdom, 2013

At the same time we see recurring hints of the tourist attendance: Luke Stephenson’s images of the national ice cream and Mike Perry’s collection of washed up shoes. Their images show sets of objects that reminds of the stereotypical view of the trips to the seaside. Perry’s is in his work Môr Plastig creating an underlying narrative where we want to ask about the background of the owners of the large quantities of washed up shoes and sandals he has photographed, and at the same time the title, which is Welsh for ‘Plastic Sea’, reminds us of environmental complications of modern leisure.

© Luke Stephenson, Wells Next to Sea #27 from the series 99 x 99s, 2013

Luke Stephenson’s series 99 x 99s, shot over 3500 miles of British coast line, features the classic 99p ice creams, in total of 99 times. I have to admit I would have loved to see the total set of images on the wall at the same time, grasping the ideas of the quantities he is talking about here.

A little more placed on its own we find Nicholas Huges image, a silent and empty seascape. It is beautifully presented and gives that feeling that him self describes as “the space between the world that people inhabit and the world in which nature still dominates”, almost as a summary to the exhibition over all.

© Nicholas Hughes, Untitled #29 from the series Edge, Verse I, 2005

The exhibition provides a timely view into days by the sea as we are experiencing the nicest summer in years and longing for those lazy days out. You can visit the exhibition until 31. August, and perhaps even secure one of those prints.


Review written by marketing volunteer Marianne Bjørnmyr