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Iain McKell's Beautiful Britain

In new book Beautiful Britain: Photographs from the 1970s to the Present, photographer Iain McKell captures his own individual journey walking besides the tribes and subcultures of the UK. The personal collection of images taken over a period of thirty-five years shows a wide variety of subjects ranging from seaside tourists to skinheads, ravers to suburban dandies and reflects McKell’s position as not only a photographer and curious observer but also a keen participant. As he says: “my work is always about the us rather than the them.”

Julian, Weymouth, 1977, from Beautiful Britain: Photographs from the 1970s to the Present, by Iain McKell, copyright © Iain McKell, 2012

Kings Cross 1980, from Beautiful Britain: Photographs from the 1970s to the Present, by Iain McKell, copyright © Iain McKell, 2012

Wembley, 1980, from Beautiful Britain: Photographs from the 1970s to the Present, by Iain McKell, copyright © Iain McKell, 2012

Southend on Sea 1980, from Beautiful Britain: Photographs from the 1970s to the Present, by Iain McKell, copyright © Iain McKell, 2012

Finding his spiritual roots in photographers such as Irving Penn, Bruce Davidson and Diane Arbus; McKell is drawn to subjects who are all in search of something that takes them outside the perceived normality of mass culture. Beautiful Britain is accompanied by an essay by journalist and cultural commentator William Oliver, who has written for the likes of Dazed and Confused, i-D and The Art Newspaper. Together the author and artist capture characters that are creative, eccentric and authentic – attributes that Mckell describes as “true Britishness”. 

All images from Beautiful Britain: Photographs from the 1970s to the Present, by Iain McKell. Copyright © Iain McKell, 2012.

Beautiful Britain: Photographs from the 1970s to the Present, by Iain McKell, with an essay by William Oliver is published by Prestel price £24.99 in hardcover, 192 pp, 150 col. illus. (ISBN 978-3-7913-4701-1).