‘Seaside: Photographed’ displays the memoirs of youth and love from relic long dead people who’d otherwise been forgotten. Victorian women wearing expensive embroidered dresses with veils stand beside pompous sharp-eyed men with suits. They stand still, faces emotionless to pause a permanent second in time. The exhibition displays the once thriving tourist coastal towns and leaves them exposed to the bleak present of forgotten businesses and dilapidated hostels.
There is something here for everyone. It is likely that all Britons have travelled to the seaside for a ‘staycation’ or a day-trip. Picturesque photos show the ‘perfect’ visions families from London have consistently searched and yearned for on their one-day holidays. Smiles and waves are captured mid-movement, frozen. Giving pause to a futile yet eye-opening reflection of how much the world has changed since the 17th century and how much it will continue to change.
Intimate family videos and photograph collections merge with commercialized pictures of a bright Butlins and hundreds of replicated angles of ferocious waves on postcards from anonymous forgotten photographers. In one collection of pictures, a series of boarder-up buildings stand in melancholic irony, for a seaside that seems to give much joy, its businesses are struggling to stay afloat. In the other, pictures of drunk women as they flail on the floor swearing at you, and another, intoxicated bodies strewn haphazardly across the grass in the midst of a party-goer festival in the isle of Wight.
In conclusion, I’d recommend the ‘seaside: photographed’ for anyone willing to travel into a world of nostalgia and awaken long-forgotten memories, good and bad. And, of course, anyone willing to see wonderful photography.