Top positive review
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Stark, gritty reality and slightly unexpected
on 19 July 2012
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.