Saturday, December 28, 2019

Shutting up shop

You have to suffer for your art, or at least be prepared to risk ridicule. Walking around Leeds clutching a camera and a stepladder must have made Peter Mitchell seem like quite the eccentric - but the images he captured on his perambulations fully justify any sacrifice of dignity.

Mitchell's prime concern was to take pictures of soon-to-be-derelict buildings - not "for nostalgic reasons", he insists, but because he "enjoyed it from an architectural perspective". At the same time, though, and like Martin Parr with the Point Of Sale series, he was (knowingly or otherwise) chronicling shifting retail habits. The photos are memorials to proud independent businesses long since physically erased - a process that is most strikingly captured in the image of Mr and Mrs Hudson's newsagents/tobacconists. The couple stand in the doorway of a building that is already half-demolished and, as Mitchell observed at the time, apparently propped up by a ladder.

RRB Books are publishing a new book of Mitchell's pictures in the spring - an enterprise you can support by buying a signed, limited-edition print of the fantastic image Rave On, Elford Place, Leeds, 1983 by 31st December. Ours - a mutual Christmas present - is awaiting framing.

No comments: