on 1 January 2008
A superb collection of pictures which need a careful study as they are thought provoking especially after you read the introduction (which you must)by Don Mccullin and his reasons for submitting this collection of his work. Perhaps his study of people back in his homeland became more fascinating to him after his overseas war experiences mainly with the Sunday Times, seeing England as tragic and at times vain and often no better, who knows?.At any rate Don says it is about preserving his memories and how powerful they are. These pictures will instantly be loved and the more you know about McCullin as a person and his work I think this book will be even more meaningful as you see England in a new light. In some ways it acts as a mirror of us all. It's humorous without mocking, showing in places almost tragic irony and rather contrasting situations.It's sobering to see the state of the nation through the decades. Finally I would say that you can't help returning to it because it is like a family of album of post war Britain-warts and all!
on 19 November 2007
A wonderful coffee table tome spanning back half a century and displaying both high society and low life England and its thrilling landscapes with equal measures of pathos, drama and senstivity. Don McCullin, a master at bringing life and soul the bleak, banal and often ignored, creates pictures which demand a response. You will find yourself returning to his imposing monochromatic images again and again.
on 30 May 2014
Don McCullin is a photographer of war and conflict. But war is not always on the battlefields of some foreign place.
In England there has always been an enormous gulf between the priveleged few and the desperate millions. The streets of London can change from wealth to poverty just by turning a corner. It was always so and Don McCullin made it his business to record the terrible inequality. Not only London but Liverpoool and Bradford among many others. There is a stark and terrible beauty about McCullin's work that hits the viewer where it hurts - in his very soul. And that's where this book is aimed - at the soul of England and the English (or British if you prefer politically correctness). It isn't just the streets of towns and cities that McCullin inbues with his powerful sense of dark and light, his landscapes also talk to us with an almost unbearable elegiac melancholy. This is the vision of a man who cares about the people he sees and the land he loves. This is the visual diary of the darkness of difference and the darkness that light can make. But even the most desperate of the characters he photographs in the urban bleakness are treated with sympathy. McCullin invites us to look and feel ashamed that in this wealthy country there are people who were living, and continue to live, in a kind of twilight zone somewhere between despair and complete hopelessness, whilst at the same time there are people who will never know what it is to see their life slide out of view, like the priveleged Cambridge students, the Ascot toffs and the Henley regatta twits that McCullin dispassionately depicts. These are the English who will continue to dance to the music of their own peculiar time.
I think that McCullin's view of England is of a place that has changed physically and materially from the country he knew as home into an almost unrecognisable foreign land. But the people remain the same. It makes no difference whether be they the indigineous population he shows us from the 50's, 60's and 70's or the immigrant populations that have moved into what were the working class districts that McCullin himself once belonged to. Here is the visual poetry of a man who can capture light to show the darkness in a way that very few others can.
Mccullin himself says that if you come, as he does, from the grubby market streets amongst deprivation and grindingly hard work just to survive, you'll come out angry. He's been angry ever since and it shows in his work. But the anger is leavened with substantial helpings of both truth and hope. To an outsider it might seem from looking at the pictures in this book that England is a place full of grim poverty and dismal, ruined streets - a land of dark, satanic mills, if you will - and that this is merely an excercise in documentary photography. But that would be a mistake. This is more than social history, it is a work of art drawn from the very heart of the nation. This is not a trite excercise in rich versus poor, it is a testimony to the England that is ever-changing and at the same time still the same. Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis for some and plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose for others.
McCullin has photographed conflict all over the world, bearing witness to terrible atrocities and suffering, opening our eyes to the evil that men do. But here he brings us his soliloquay to home.
Buy this book because it is beautiful.
Buy it because it is powerful.
Buy it because it cares.
on 10 January 2008
Don McCullin's latest collection of photos is a dark mirror. The prints are beautifully rendered-- uniformly dark but perfectly toned in their range of light and shadow. The subject matter is dark too -- there is little to indicate any social progress to lessen the gap between the privileged and the have-nots over the nearly fifty years the collection represents at its maximum span. McCullin's pictures show bleakly how little has changed over that period.
But perhaps what is most striking is how the English at play still look grotesque regardless of class. You expect shots of your parents generation to look odd; it is startling to see your own generation repeat the same inanities of dress and expression. Take away the captions and you'd be hard pressed to say whether it's 1966 or 2006 on some of the shots.
Regardless of grotesquerie or social commentary, this collection underlines McCullin's mastery of both capturing the moment and then bringing out the maximum impact through careful and thoughtful printing. Its a visually stunning book.
Don McCullin In England is a beautifully produced and powerful piece of work. It collects many of his lesser known photographs of England from around the late 1950's up until the mid 2000's - and is absolutely rivetting, not just as an example of his genius with the camera, but also as a social history of England. What's interesting is that many of the pictures taken in the 1960's could have been taken in the thirties, and many of the more recent photos could have been from earlier times, proving that although as a society things have changed, they've also stayed the same.
McCullin's knack is to capture the starkness of life and landscape in a way that summarises the beauty and atmosphere, whether it be harsh industrial landscapes, street scenes, barren rural landscapes, or the plight and hopelessness of the many dispossesed characters he seems to have photographed in this volume. Whatever the subject, there is a powerful sense of connection here between photograph and photographer, and that's what makes McCullin so special.
I think this book means more to me because I've read McCullin's autobiography, which explains something of how he sees the world and shapes his images as a result. Either way, In England is one of the most powerful photographic books available, and with high production values from Jonathan Cape in the printing and presentation of the material, it's a superb volume to own. Whether you are interested in McCullin, photography in general, or a social history of our country, the book is recommended without reservation.
This is a large book containing a substantial number of photographs, including several that are quite modern and dating to 2006 - the book was published in 2007. It has a slightly unusual, almost square format at around 14 inches per side and finding a shelf to accommodate it could be a problem.
Several images are split across the double-page spread but too many sides are glaring white paper, which is slightly disappointing. The images are about as far as they can be from McCullin's most recognised war photographs and include landscapes, portraits and quite a lot of street photography. Excluding the landscapes, which are the most surprising inclusion and well visualised and rendered, McCullin's affinity for people is well in evidence.
All the imagery is in black and white which is to be expected of McCullin and I doubt that many could have worked as well if shot in colour. In many of the street scenes, which are mostly located in the less wealthy parts of the cities including London's Whitechapel and Lambeth, he has found the grittiest scenes possible. Whitechapel was an area I knew extremely well up to and including the 80s, is an area of extreme poverty and has long had an association with immigrants - different communities at various periods of its history. Consequently, the character of the area constantly changes to reflect its current population, in whatever proportions they exist at any one point in time.
McCullin's preference is for the stark and moody and it shows from page 1 onwards. There is little here that is upbeat, and showing celebration or enjoyment, nor would I expect that from McCullin. The quality of imagery is high and I would expect it to be from a true professional. Some of the images are thought-provoking. There is no commentary, explanation or other details of the imagery other than a bold statement of the location and year for each.
As a side note, the dust-cover contains rather different images than the hard cover beneath.
An excellent and recommended book for the fans of the monochrome image.
on 25 September 2011
How coincidental and very fortunate the UK was to have TWO of the Worlds' really GREAT Photographers within its' borders, and I don't just mean 'snappers' either, I mean real Photo-Journalists in the names of Don McCullin and the late Larry Burrows who died while covering yet another job during the Vietnam War. Another 'coincidence is that they both hailed from the same part of North London - Finsbury Park.
"In England" is a superb photographic essay as anyone who has purchased any other of McCullins books would expect. Full of photos of various areas of England, notably Consett,Liverpool,Sussex,Somerset,Wiltshire,Essex and the towns of Bradford and also London he takes us on a social helter-skelter from the Upper-Class social gatherings of the Henley Regatta and Ascot to the slums of Liverpool and elsewhere but for me the most moving photos of all were of 'Jean' of Aldgate, London a sight of pure and utter desperation if there ever was one and also between pages 150 and 167 those poor souls who have to spend their nights sleeping in doorways or on debris sites.Scenes of absolute tragedy in the year 2012?
I have often felt that many of these people have ended-up in these situations through circumstances and misfortune beyond their own control and had matters and a little luck been kinder to them then maybe they would NOT be where they now find themselves?
on 20 May 2011
I'm a huge fan of McCullin, and an even bigger admirer, not only of his talent and eye as a photographer, but also of his humanity and humility as a person. He grew up in Finsbury Park in London in the 50s, the preface of the book is the frame through which we begin to see "how" McCullin views the world. His mother would scrub clothes clean for him, clothes which had been dumped on the pavement in the market "If you use that anger you can make something of your life."
His work is impassioned and honest. Most people know Mccullin for his war-photography, but here "In England" he turns his camera towards his own place of birth, including the people he knows: we see alternately the social divide, riots, poverty, privilege. The photographs become a static film-strip, recording a true, lived history in their gritty, dark, black and white honesty. I think you would be hard as nails not to be moved by what you see. The beggars on the streets in London, crowded round fruit boxes burning for heat. At ground level, we see high-heeled feet walking past human bundles curved embryonically huddling for shelter on concrete steps of doorways, peeled paint, rubbish sacks, litter strewn all over the streets.
A hard time. There's Mosley, potato pickers, gypsies, satanic mills, Glyndebourne, Sandhurst, the Guvnors (his local gang from the 50s), and more.
".. Well-educated, capable people fall because they have no horizon. I never feel I have arrived at some destination. There is always something ahead, another horizon." I once had ambition and longing myself, to be a war-photographer, then my life took me in another direction, but I completely associate with his endless striving for the next thing in life. There is always another corner to turn, a hill to climb and a sea to ride... and time ALWAYS to make a difference to those around you. Buy this book for yourself and then buy copies for your friends. You'll be edifying your life and theirs too.
on 24 February 2016
I thought I would like this book more than I did. I like the idea of it, a compilation of his photos from various parts and times of England, and he clearly has a strong political and social conscience which I admire. Technically the images are spot on too, but for me there was just something missing - a sense of warmth, a love of his subjects or craft, or maybe some humour.
on 1 February 2009
This book contains some great imagery spanning 5 decades - from urban decay to some great portraiture i would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in photography .