So exotic, so homemade

Surrealism, Englishness and documentary photography

By Ian Walker

So exotic, so homemade

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7340-3
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: November 2007
  • BIC Category: The arts / Photography & photographs, ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945), History of art, Modernism, Photography & photographs, Art History
  • Series: The Critical Image


In his previous book City Gorged with Dreams (2002), Ian Walker challenged established ideas about Surrealist photography by emphasising the key role played by documentary photographs in Parisian Surrealism. Now Walker turns his attention to the arrival of Surrealism in England in 1936. Examining for the first time the surprising relationship between Surrealism and English documentary photography and film, the book shows that some of the most interesting work of the period was made in the ambiguous spaces between them. One of the key themes in this book is the relationship between the 'homely' and the 'exotic', in the innovative mix of poetry and ethnography in Mass-Observation for example, or the shadowed England constructed in the work of Bill Brandt. Based on extensive archival research, interviews and visits to sites where the photographs were made, this book is rich in detailed analysis yet written in an accessible and often witty style.


Ian Walker is Reader in the History of Photography at the University of Wales, Newport


List of figures
1. Paul Nash - the genius of the place
2. Seaside Surrealism - Nash in Swanage
3. The Comic Sublime - Eileen Agar at Ploumanac'h
4. The Road is wider - Penrose and Miller in the Balkans
5. 'Subjective Cameras' - Humphrey Jennings and Mass-Observation
6. Up North - Spender, Trevelyan and Brandt
7. Revenge on culture - the Surrealism of the Blitz
8. The street and the beach

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