Collective Observations: Folklore and Photography – from Benjamin Stone to Flickr

Since 1897, when Sir Benjamin Stone established the National Photographic Record Association (NPRA), photographers have had a fascination with the rites and rituals of Britain. 

This exhibition explores the complimentary relationship between photography and folklore practice – featuring contributions from Faye Claridge, Matthew Cowan, Doc Rowe, the Benjamin Stone Collection, Homer Sykes, Brian Shuel, Sara Hannant, Tom Chick, David Ellison and Henry Bourne.

There are 720 recorded events, rites and customs practiced in the UK each year, and folklore is reflected in every element of our community, life and values. Folklore is a vibrant element of ‘Britishness’ and a living cultural heritage that links the past to the present, helping us to understand our communities and cultures as well as our shared humanity.

Collective Observations will consider the enduring appeal of vernacular traditions as rich subject matter for image makers, and explore how photographers have consistently turned their lenses toward the spectacle of these archaic customs – whether by documenting events (like Homer Sykes and Sara Hannant), making portraits (Henry Bourne, David Ellison) or taking a more conceptual approach (Matthew Cowan, Tom Chick).

Curated by the Museum of British Folklore in conjunction with Towner

Inset image: Antrobus Horse © Doc Rowe
Banner image: Skeletons, Samhain, Chalice Well, Glastonbury, Somerset, 2007 © Sara Hannant (detail)

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