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Seaside: Photographed is a major exhibition that examines the relationship between photographers, photography and the British seaside from the 1850s to the present. The Exhibition presents the seaside in a multitude of different visions, celebrating our special relationship with our coast.

Images of hotel life, the beach, the holiday camp, dressing up and dressing down, wild waves, hotel interiors and coastlines all combine to create a rich and constantly changing picture of the British seaside. The curators have included unknown works from across photography’s history as well as images by such celebrated photographers as Jane Bown (1925-2014), Vanley Burke (1951-), Anna Fox (1961-), Martin Parr (1952-), and Ingrid Pollard (1953-).

Personal and social histories are captured by camera by the sea. The exhibits include Raymond Lawson’s remarkable chronicles of family life in Whitstable (1959), Enzo Ragazzini’s images of the anarchy of the 1970 Isle of Wight festival and Stuart Griffiths’ bleak documentation of the 1990 rave scene in Brighton. Grace Robertson records the raucous goings-on of a woman’s day out to the coast in the 1950s, while Daniel Meadows, Barry Lewis and Dafydd Jones all photographed at Butlins in the 1970s. A more intimate narrative is revealed in the photographs that preserve the seaside haven created by composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears, partners in music and in life.  

New Brighton, England, from The Last Resort (1983-85)

In April 2019 the WILD Young Parent’s Project, in partnership with Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, commissioned photographer Steve Tanner to work with the Mums and Dads in their West Cornwall groups to investigate their relationship to the sea. What is the reality for them of living in this remote, rural county that so many people escape to on holiday?  The project concluded in December 2020 with an invitation to poet Ella Frears to work with the Mums and Dads to capture their thoughts and feeling in print. The outcomes of this sustained partnership form a new addition to the main exhibition.

Seaside Photographed features
Shirley Baker | Rob Ball | Maurice Beck | Michael Bennett | Lucy Bentham | Hannah Blackmore | Jane Bown | Bill Brandt | Anne Braybon | Benjamin Britten | Vanley Burke| Natasha Caruana | Bob Chicalors | John Chillingworth | Olive Cooke | Alfred Cracknell | William Crookes | Colin Curwood  Bruce Davidson | Steve Ferrier | Terry Fincher | Anna Fox F Greaves | Stuart Griffiths | Pat Gwynne Julia Horbaschk | Charles Howell | David Hurn | Kurt Hutton | Dafydd Jones | Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen Grace Lau | Raymond C Lawson | Barry Lewis | Markéta Luskačová | Paul Martin | Iain McKell  Daniel Meadows | Lee Miller | Francis Mortimer | Helen Muspratt | Paul Nash | Martin Parr | Peter Pears | Danielle Peck | Vinca Petersen | John Piper | Ingrid Pollard | Enzo Ragazzini | Marc Riboud | Grace Robertson | Roper | Barnett & Reuben Saidman | Yvonne Singh | Reginald Slader | C Smith | Enid Slater / Edwin Smith | Steve Tanner | Colin Thomas | Keith Vaughan | D H White | Rowan Whybrew | Jason Wilde

Curators Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson: “The British seaside has always been a metaphor for the state of the nation. Decline and regeneration have become seaside descriptors. The coastal population is a complex one - new sets of urban colonizers repurposing seaside buildings and spaces, visitors, émigrés, retirees, all living alongside longstanding citizens.”

Anna Fox, Hayling Island 1986 © Anna Fox, courtesy of James Hyman Gallery, London

Curated by Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson, Seaside: Photographed is a touring exhibition organised by Turner Contemporary. The exhibition was presented at Turner Contemporary in summer 2019, and tours to three other UK venues in 2020/21, each with their own unique connection to the seaside.

John Hansard Gallery, Southampton:  31 Oct 2020 – 23 Jan 2021
Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange: 19 May – 3 Jul 2021
Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool: 17 Jul – 11 Sep 2021

With support from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

A book to accompany the exhibition, Seaside: Photographed, is available from the gallery shops.

Dafydd Jones, Butlins, Minehead, Somerset 1979





Val Williams is a curator and writer, and UAL Professor of the History and Culture of Photography, London College of Communication She co-edits Photography & Culture and is on the Board of Fast Forward, Women in Photography, and co- convenes its biannual conference. Val was the founder director of Impressions Gallery, co- directed the Shoreditch Photo Biennale and began the Oral History of British Photography.

Curated and co-curated/authored and co-authored projects include How We Are (Tate Britain); Daniel Meadows (Library of Birmingham); Warworks (V&A); Martin Parr (Barbican Art Gallery/ Phaidon); The Dead (National Media Museum); Who’s Looking at the Family? (Barbican); The Other Observers: Women’s Photography in Britain (National Museum of Photography / Virago); Ken: To be destroyed (Schwules Museum, Berlin/ Schilt); Soho Archives and Soho Nights and Tish Murtha (Photographers Gallery); Seaside: Photographed (Turner Contemporary/ Thames&Hudson). 



Karen Shepherdson is a photographer, curator and writer. She is reader in Photography at Canterbury Christ Church University, co-editor for the Journal of Photography and Culture and the founder director of the UK’s South East Archive of Seaside (SEAS) Photography. Karen has received a number of funding awards and regularly creates national and international partnerships for practice and exhibition. Her research and practice focuses on coastal communities that have endured chronic cultural and social under-investment and considers how common ground can be used as sites for potential wellbeing and community repair. Karen was director of the Old Lookout Gallery in Broadstairs (2010–15) and has curated several festivals including Folkestone’s Salt: Festival of the Sea and Environment and 'Beyond the View: New Perspectives on Seaside Photography'. Karen’s own photographic work has been exhibited in the UK, Scandinavia and the USA.


Founded in 1895 by John Passmore Edwards the philanthropist and social reformer, 2020 marked the 125th anniversary of Newlyn Art Gallery. Passmore Edwards was committed to improving people’s lives and felt that art had an important role to play. This vision has inspired us to think more ambitiously about our work with communities and how we might involve them more actively in shaping and leading our work. We are particularly interested in how the gallery might embrace its civic role and become relevant and important to more people.

As an Arts Council Collection National Partner, and through the New Voices programme, we are exploring ways in which we can give a voice to different communities and individuals as curators, drawing on the 8,000 works contained within the Collection.  We are working with LGBTQIA+ young people, through the Intercom Trust and their YAY groups, to develop an exhibition and programme of events in 2021 to celebrate queer histories and creativity. Another project using the Arts Council Collection will be with WILD Young Parents Project, a Cornwall-wide charity supporting young families.

Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange is an educational arts charity, an Arts Council England National Portfolio organisation, an Arts Council Collection National Partner, and a Cornwall Council Strategic Arts Client. We present contemporary work in all media by regional, national and international artists across two sites in West Cornwall. In recent years, our programmes have reached beyond the galleries into other settings, including care homes, schools and other public spaces, from beaches to places of worship, in order to realise our commitment to reach the broadest and largest audiences we can. 

We were thrilled to be named as part of the Jerwood Arts’ Development Programme. We will be working with Jerwood Arts to deliver six artists’ residencies, collectively known as The Jerwood Newlyn Residency, between 2021 and 2022.