Frank Meadow Sutcliffe - Britain's Atget?

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by batwister, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. batwister

    batwister Member

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    I'm just having a look through the web archive of his work - http://www.sutcliffe-gallery.co.uk/ - and having quite a response to some of his images.
    I have a soft spot for Whitby, but this is the first time I've had a proper look at Sutcliffe.

    Is he Britain's answer to Atget? Because I believe he was as good a photographer and certainly less poisoned by Academia. But that Sutcliffe isn't as trendy as Atget probably makes him more hip!
    For the Americans, Whitby is an old fishing town of cultural significance for Bram Stoker. Sutcliffe, like Atget, worked relentlessly in this single locale for most of his life documenting the fishermen, quirky narrow streets and general life.

    These are a few images which grabbed me:

    B29.jpg
    17-32.jpg
    18-35.jpg
    04-34.jpg
    B34.jpg
     
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  2. GregW

    GregW Member

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    Love the last one of the chimney sweep and the baker? miller ? stone mason? anyway, the guy covered in white dust.
     
  3. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Just to add my own sequential spin :smile:

    1.jpg
     
  4. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Member

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    No, Sutcliffe was a community photographer, with an incredible ability to get the willing cooperation of his subjects. Atget's photos of people were lrelatively unsuccessful. (Sutcliffe's few landscapes are pretty nice, and with one he won a prestigious prize in Japan.) Sutcliffe has much more in common with the later Ravilious than with Atget. Atget's photos are static and calm; Sutcliffe's are necessarily posed (because of the awkward technology of the time) but nevertheless full of life.

    I'm a long-term admirer of Sutcliffe, buying my first book of his photos in the early 70s when I was a teenager and tempted by photography for a career. On studying them, I was humbled by Sutcliffe's photos, which turned me off that idea, probably for the best. I now have five books of his photos, and by amazing good fortune my mother found she had a signed original print. (You can buy modern prints made from his negatives, presumably now done digitally.)

    Enjoy, that collection is a treasure-trove.
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    For those interested, Whitby did and I presume still does, have a Frank Sutcliffe museum/gallery. If you are ever near Whitby then worth checking out.

    pentaxuser
     
  6. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Yes the Sutcliffe gallery is still open just up the rather steep hill from the north end of the swing bridge which leads into Flowergate. Most of the prints there are for sale but inkjet only (for want of a better term) and not silver based, however they are still superb images.
     
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  7. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would totally agree and say your statement Frank Meadow Sutcliffe - Britain's Atget is spot on. Despite the differences mentioned in a previous thread, the aesthetic presence and mood are almost identical.
     
  8. batwister

    batwister Member

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    I think its mostly the 'ghostly' documentarian in Sutcliffe which had me comparing with Atget. Ravilious strikes me more as a 'chocolate box' photographer - much more illustrative compositions and pastoral subject matter I think. There's more atmosphere, mood and artful subtlety in Sutcliffe's pictures, where Ravililious' are pretty flat and to the point. I don't really see the comparison beyond similar subjective concerns.

    Are there any original prints on display at all?
     
  9. batwister

    batwister Member

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    I think a good curator could do wonders with his work, but I'm guessing the prints are untouchable for their historical significance more than photographic importance. He's more of a 'photographer's photographer' than I'd been led to believe, much more artful, which doesn't seem to be properly recognised.