A document of British photography from the late 1960s until the late 1980s, 'No such thing as society' draws from the collections of the Arts Council and the British Council to give a radically new picture of these two turbulent decades.

The early 70s saw the emergence of new and independent approaches to documentary photography which focused on social realism. The leading exponent, Tony Ray-Jones, captured the comedies of social class and the absurdities of human behaviour within the constraints of British culture.

The human costs of de-industrialisation and globalisation were the great central themes of the documentary photographers active in the North of England in the late 70s and 80s. The social disasters captured in Chris Killip’s work extended into the darkly coloured, claustrophobic interiors of DHSS offices photographed by Paul Graham, and Martin Parr’s lividly coloured documents of holiday makers in New Brighton, Liverpool.

By the end of the 80s, the status of photography within the artistic context had been established. Motifs of intense political dissatisfaction spread across the urban vistas of Ian Dobbie, while more conventional forms of photo-journalism of urban conflict in the North of Ireland and the streets of South London were employed by Philip Jones-Griffith and Paul Graham.

Curated by David Alan Mellor, Professor of Art History at the University of Sussex. He has written and curated extensively on aspects of post-war British art and photography, including Antonioni’s Blow-Up, London 1966 (2006), Liliane Lijn, Works, 1958-1980 (2005), Interpreting Lucian Freud (2003), and The Art of Robyn Denny (2002).

Artists included:
Keith Arnatt, John Benton Harris, Ian Berry, Derek Boshier, Victor Burgin, Vanley Burke, David Butterworth, David Chadwick, Tarik Chawdry, John Davies, Ian Dobbie, Peter Fraser, Gilbert & George, Paul Graham, Brian Griffin, Christine Hobbeheydar, Cragie Horsfield, Alexis Hunter, Phillip Jones-Griffiths, Chris Killip, Bob Long, Markéta Luskacová, Ron McCormick, Peter Marlow, Daniel Meadows, Peter Mitchell, Raymond Moore, Tish Murtha, Martin Parr, Gilles Peress, Tony Ray-Jones, Jurgen Schadeberg, Graham Smith, Chris Steele-Perkins, Homer Sykes, Paul Trevor.