500MH Loves: John Myers’ Middle England

John Myers Middle England

This weekend I went out for a balti to Birmingham’s Sparkbrook area: a round trip of some 250 miles necessitating an overnight stay, but last night’s balti was delicious (thank you Adil’s).

After breakfast this morning – overlooking the splendid canal system – we headed for the Ikon Gallery with nothing more in mind than killing an hour before catching the train back to London. What a delight then to see the small-but-perfectly-formed photography exhibition John Myers Middle England.

Myers is a Yorkshire-born, Midlands-based artist and academic, who throughout the 1970’s took an extraordinary series of photographs of his local Stourbridge area. The portraits (see above) have a haunting oddness that lingers in the memory but it was the people-less subtopian landscapes that really struck a chord with me – including a series devoted to electricity substations.

Being of an age to remember the 1970’s, the photographs brought back the stultifying feeling of boredom, or boring-ness, that I associate with large parts of that decade. I write also as someone who as a youth wandered around the outskirts of town with his own camera, taking “artistic” shots of cooling towers and the like. Those shots won’t be troubling the gallery curators anytime soon, but John Myers’ work is definitely worth a trip to see (and don’t forget the balti)…

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