Simon Roberts  Reviews

“Pierdom is an elegant exhibition with a long-shelf life and it will, no doubt, become part of an archive of British heritage.”
— Miranda Gavin, Photomonitor, 2016

“Simon Roberts makes large-scale pictures with the physical presence of paintings….His large-format camera captures all the details of people and their quirky activities, and sets them within the broader sweep of the British countryside. His pictorial approach allows the photographs to be sociological studies and grand landscapes at the same time.”
— Lucy Soutter, Critic & Art Historian, 2015

“Simon Roberts’ photographs explore how our collective and national identities are shaped, interpreted, defined and transformed by our relationship to the landscape. Often creating expansive, tableaux photographs, he creates visual narratives which chart the ambiguities and complexities of post-industrial Britain. The photographs require scrutiny and contemplation. They have a visual command that comes from their expansive nature and scale, where all are made with a large format camera.”
— Stephen Daniels, Professor of Cultural Geography, University of Nottingham, 2015

“Simon Roberts really connects with his fellow British and understands the underlying psych of Great Briton. Pierdom is an excellent follow on to his photobook We English and is another in his series that utilizes a large format vision to investigate the British culture.”
— Doug Stockdale, The Photobook, 2014

Pierdom is a terrific example of a photographic project that functions best when seen together as a group, either in book form or as a gallery show. While each of Roberts’ well crafted images of English seaside piers can of course stand alone, the ideas that form the foundation of the project come through more clearly when the images can resonate with each other….All in, this is a deftly self-contained project, with a deceptively rich and sophisticated set of underlying constructs.”
Loring Knoblauch, Collector Daily, 2013

We English offers a renewed vision of England. New forms of cohesion and belonging are evidenced, but they are not exclusively found in urban areas. Simon Roberts does not reject the national frame, but reinvents it, by revealing the interactions and relations involved in national identification…. The nation is re-imagined through a new, dynamic, open vision of England.
— Karine Chambefort-Kay, Academic, 2014

“The Gordon Brown photograph shouldn’t be taken for granted as an ‘election picture’. Portraits of this kind are hard to find – indeed I would say that they are impossible to find. It is candid and it is collective, at a time when portraits are often strained and exceptional.“
— Ian Jeffrey, Art Historian, 2013

“Simon Roberts, in the tracks of Ray-Jones or Meadows in his project We English, returns to the task of presenting a synoptic view of the nation and its people. His work involves a coming together of people and place – landscape and society. History is ingrained in each image – not least the history of those who have shared his endeavour. There is something old-fashioned in his project, beneath its very contemporary surface, something of the photographic social archives of the nineteenth century.”
— Martin Caiger-Smith, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2012

“It is refreshing to see a photographer dedicated to following the course of the global economic shifts. Even though Roberts’ work examines the affects these shifts have on a domestic level, his work reflects a larger international consciousness of uncertainty and chaos.”
— Portia Pettersen, Artlyst, 2012

“Roberts’ manner is calm. He shows people small in the landscape, clustered into groups rather than isolated as individuals. He likes to shoot from relatively high, so we see patterns. It is partly a show about ritual in the landscape, the strange things we do to feel we belong. It is partly about how the very numbers of us who come to enjoy the land spoil the thing we admire. A strong theme is about movement, but Roberts shrewdly notices how much movement is local. Playing golf still has something pastoral about it, even in the shadow of the very power station which employed you. These elegant pictures invite multiple readings, but they do it with confidence and zest. With flashes of wit, humanity, and abundant respect for his photographic predecessors, Simon Roberts has added a good one to the canon of surveys of the English.”
— Francis Hodgson, Critic, 2011

“Roberts’ work is significant because he combines a respect for his subject and the desire to communicate important social, economic and political issues, with a contemporary and highly talented approach to image making. His approach is one of creating wide-ranging surveys of our time, which he does through eloquent and arresting photographs.”
— Greg Hobson, Curator of Photographs, National Media Museum, 2011

“We English, which looks at leisure locations around England from an aerial perspective, is the best new book on England for many years.”
— Martin Parr, Photographer, 2011

“Roberts travelled around England in a motorhome to produce his large-scale photographs of the English at rest and play. The results are epic vistas captured from a distance that are both timeless and contemporary.”
— Sean O’Hagan, The Observer, 2011

“The methodology the artist makes use of distinguishes his whole body of research. It consists of a lengthy period of observation with an eye to the relational aspects of the process of building up the image, meaning that rather than being the result of a single point of view, it is more the synthesis of individual stories and widespread sentiments that blend together and give life to a spatial representation, both intimate and rigorous.”
— Daria Filardo, Curator, 2010

“We English is a complex body of work – photographically simple in one sense, but imagistically complicated, with many different inferences, not all of them immediately appearance, so one can be grateful for the book’s size, which enables one to see much of the detail in the pictures. Whether it can be considered as art or documentary, I don’t care – the so-called painterly aspects of the work interest me the least. What does interest me is that Simon Roberts has produce an intelligent and persuasive vision of our contemporary English mores – a Tony Ray-Jones for the 21st century.”
— Gerry Badger, Ag Magazine, 2010

“Quite simply, the images are beautiful, though perhaps not immediately revealing – their beauty can encourage the clumsy habit of overlooking what they contain. The best of these photographs are remarkable in the layers that Roberts’s has managed to capture – environment, group and individual. And truly the three inform and shape the others.”
— Sarah Bradley, Photo-Eye Magazine, 2010

“True to his word, Roberts’ pictures are unmistakably his own. Photographed in colour with a tripod-mounted 5 x 4 plate camera, they exhibit a disciplined compositional restraint, a richness of palette, and – often – a wealth of narrative incident…..His intent to mine the country’s overlooked moments – the trivial and the quotidian – is made good.”
— Guy Lane, The Art Book, 2010

“We English, the title of Roberts’s engrossing exhibition of large-scale color photographs might lead you to expect gently satiric social studies in the style of Martin Parr. But the focus of the work is primarily landscape, and several of the images are broad, handsome vistas with only a few people scattered about the terrain. Even the photographs that include larger groups were taken from a distance—a perspective that echoes classical painting, although the subjects are decidedly contemporary.”
— Vince Aletti, The New Yorker, 2009

“For Roberts, landscape is a site of leisure pursuits, and this viewpoint fits well with both contemporary social thought and the consumption-obsessed imagery of much current documentary. But he manages somehow to allow the sublime beauty of many of these settings through, and to make pictures of lasting quality.”
— Peter Hamilton, British Journal of Photography, 2009

“With a Simon Roberts it is a case of the more you look, the more you see. We English has tremendous historical and anthropological interest; it takes us on an amazing journey through ideas of belonging and memory, identity and place. It is one of the those rare books than you can and will come back to time and time again.”
— Tim Clark, 1000 Words Magazine, 2009

“Roberts’ photographs are indeed beautiful. The light is often luminous, the colour rich and intense…..The pictures are sumptuous.”
— Jane Fletcher, Source, 2009

“This empathic and captivating collection of photographs [Motherland], which combines intimate portraits and expansive landscapes, coalesces into a picture of post-Soviet Russia that is more complex and optimistic than clichéd portrayals of poverty in the wake of communism. Offering equal measures of beauty and disorder, pride and melancholy, the images speak to feelings of belonging and a common spirit amidst evident diversity.”
— Karen Irvine, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, 2008

“Motherland is a beautifully resolved body of work and the pervading air of melancholy, so suited the subject. The editing together of landscapes and figure studies work powerfully together – and Simon’s eye for the special detail that lifts a picture above a record to become a kind of poetry is evident in every image.”
— Martin Barnes, Curator, V&A, 2007

“Because the photographs in Motherland depict a nation that is alien to most of us, you could almost begin to convince yourself that the scenes are, in fact, elaborately constructed film sets. The landscapes have an air of suspension about them, rather like the split second before a film director calls ‘Action’, while the portraits – as formal and static in nature as they are – have a connection between both photographer and subject seen all too rarely these days. There are echoes of August Sander about these.”
— Ailsa McWhinnie, Outdoor Photography, 2007

“Simon Roberts wants to break down the stereotypes that own you…His journey through Russia is one of liberation, not exploitation…it is a journey to uncover truth and dignity, timelessness and respect…rather than magnify crime or inflate historical myth. It is a vision speaking of majesty, community and grace, not vice, guns and titillation. He would like to take the epic land that is ‘Russia’ and make it intimate…reel it in and soften it…let you see the beauty and hope, not the suffering and pain. Simon deals in optimism and humanity, not tragedy, corruption and misery…”
— Doug Rickard, American Suburb X, 2007

“In the new documentary mode objectivity is almost invariably melded with desire. The photographs of Britain’s Simon Roberts from his series Motherland are, paradoxically, both bleak and raw and yet almost distressingly pleasing to the eye.”
— Gary Michael Dault, Critic, 2007