Home and away: four new art books explore the meaning of home
The photographs of Andy Sewell, part of a new history of British photography, offer an alternate view on country life
Andy Sewell’s photographs of British country life reveal a more modern and vibrant world than the “muted colours and organic, time-worn materials” that make up our idyllic fantasies of country living, says the British artist, who was born in east London and grew up in Hertfordshire. What drew him to this kitchen-sink still life is “the space between the countryside as an idea and the messier, more complex experience we find there”.
Sewell’s photographs feature alongside those by Don McCullin, Chloe Dewe Matthews, Martin Parr and others in a new social and cultural history of British documentary photography from 1945 onwards, and also includes essays by Ekow Eshun and Lou Stoppard. Organised chronologically, it offers a striking overview of how British society has been represented over the past seven decades. “It’s a place often depicted as a self-contained world, as an escape from modernity,” says Sewell of the UK’s great outdoors. “What is there is always more fluid, mysterious and entangled.” Baya Simons
Another Country: British Documentary Photography Since 1945 by Gerry Badger is published by Thames & Hudson in collaboration with the Martin Parr Foundation at £50
Ian Strange’s architectural interventions explore the dark histories of abandoned homes
For centuries, crosses and circles have been used to mark houses either visited by disease or targeted for burglary. This act of externalising the interior life of a home is something that artist Ian Strange explores in his Disturbed Home monograph, which contains works created over the past 12 years across his native Australia, New Zealand, the US, Norway, Japan and Poland. Spanning photography, sculpture and film, the sequence, collected in a new book ahead of an exhibition at Cincinnati’s photography biennial in September, documents Strange’s eerie “architectural interventions” on abandoned or damaged homes: one photograph shows a house as it’s swallowed by flames, others show properties marked with enormous circles of black paint, SOS signals or without external walls and roofs. These defacements always speak to the region’s environmental or economic struggles.
After the 2011 earthquake in New Zealand’s Christchurch, Strange removed the walls and ceilings of some of the city’s 16,000 ruined houses and beamed light out from the gaping spaces left behind, mimicking the damage wreaked by the event. This stripped the home of “any sense of safety and stability”, says the artist, but “I was interested in filling these marks with light, and perhaps in a sense of release”. BS
Disturbed Home by Ian Strange is published by Damiani at €55
Fashion photographer Collier Schorr’s August explores life in a small German town in the 1990s
Before Collier Schorr shot fashion campaigns for Dior and Saint Laurent and cover stories for Vogue or Dazed, she was training her photographer’s eye on the rural communities of southern Germany. The Queens-born artist began spending her summers in the small town of Schwäbisch Gmünd in the early 1990s, photographing the semi-industrialised landscape and its inhabitants. It was here that her ongoing fascination with adolescence began, as she captured the town’s youth at work or at leisure in the fields.
August collects the Polaroid photographs that Schorr took in this period, mostly as staged studies for more formal portraits. In one snapshot we glimpse a youngster pausing for a moment in the sun; in another, a topless teenage boy poses in a feather boa and a military cap; a further one shows a child making snow angels in full cadet’s uniform. As her subjects play with the trappings of their national history, Collier explores what it means to inherit such a past, as well as the sense of performance inherent in wearing a uniform. BS
August by Collier Schorr is published by Mack at £40
Dominic Bradbury traces the architectural history of Kent town
The wind-blasted Kent fishing town of Dungeness, with its rows of pitch-covered cottages, seaworn twists of discarded metal and salty fronds of sea kale, has developed its elemental aesthetic out of necessity. The pagan beauty of this coast has inspired artists and designers the world over, foremost among them the filmmaker and activist Derek Jarman, who cultivated his ethereal garden here in the 1980s. It has also become a canvas for those architects lucky enough to get building permission from the private estate.
Architectural journalist and lecturer Dominic Bradbury’s Dungeness Coastal Architecture, beautifully illustrated with photographs by Rachael Smith, charts the development of the Dungeness vernacular, taking in the bold interventions made by Simon Conder, Rodić Davidson and NORD Architecture. The book tells the history of this unique stretch of Kent through profiles of 16 homes, both old and new, and the landscape they are privileged to occupy. MARK C O’FLAHERTY
Dungeness Coastal Architecture is published by Pavilion at £25