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Dafydd Jones, Magdalen Commemoration Ball, Oxford, 1988 | © Dafydd Jones
Dafydd Jones, Magdalen Commemoration Ball, Oxford, 1988 | © Dafydd Jones
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Burberry Delve Into the British Way of Life With Major Photo Show

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 29 August 2017
After the success of Burberry’s Henry Moore exhibition in Soho earlier this year, Christopher Bailey announced the fashion house will showcase an exhibition of British photography, Here We Are, to coincide with Burberry’s September 2017 collection.

Here We Are will be presented over three floors at Burberry’s new show venue, Old Sessions House in London’s Clerkenwell. Curated by Burberry’s Christopher Bailey along with Director of Claire de Rouen bookstore in Soho, Lucy Kumara Moore, and Burberry’s latest creative collaborator, photographer Alasdair McLellan, the photographic exhibition explores the multifarious nature of the British way of life through the works of celebrated 20th century social and documentary photographers.

‘When we started thinking about curating Here We Are, I knew I wanted it to celebrate a certain strand of British photography that I have always loved – one which documents the many and varied tribes and clans and classes that make up this island of ours,’ said Bailey about the show. ‘It has been an extraordinary privilege to gather together this collection of photographs, that have influenced me so much over the years. They provide a portrait of British life, in all its nuances, both exceptional and mundane, beautiful and harsh.’

Ken Russell, In Your Dreams, January 1955
Ken Russell, In Your Dreams, January 1955 | © TopFoto / Ken Russell

Over 200 photographs (that capture the essence, and the many facets, of Britishness) will be showcased by photographers including Bill Brandt, Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, Olivier Richon, Dafydd Jones and Jo Spence.

From never-before-seen prints by Shirley Baker (who famously chronicled the harsh realities of Manchester’s slums in the ’50s) and Ken Russell’s brilliantly candid Last of the Teddy Girls series to Charlie Phillips’ photographs of his local, Notting Hill community and Karen Knorr’s depiction of 1979 Belgravia, the exhibition promises to be a vibrant illustration of British characters.

Martin Parr, O’Connell Bridge, Dublin, Ireland, October 1981
Martin Parr, O’Connell Bridge, Dublin, Ireland, October 1981 | © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery

There will also be a special presentation of over 70 photographs by Alasdair McLellan taken in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to celebrate the recently announced creative collaboration between the photographer and Burberry.

The exhibition not only offers a chance to see some of the most engaging British social portraits (which inspired the fashion house’s September collection) but also to get a glimpse inside the recently renovated Old Sessions House that was, in its heyday, one of the country’s busiest and harshest courthouses. So while you take in the building’s imperial grandeur – which boasts a copy of the Pantheon‘s dome – you can enjoy a varied events programme, the delights of Thomas’ all-day café and a pop-up Claire de Rouen bookshop.

Alasdair McLellan, Belfast, 2005
Alasdair McLellan, Belfast, 2005 | © Alasdair McLellan

Here We Are is at Old Sessions House, 22 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1 from September 18 to October 1, 2017. Free. Open daily from 10am – 9pm.

Fancy seeing more London photography news? Sweden’s Fotografiska to Open Photography Museum in London’s East End