For over a decade, Simon Roberts has photographed events and places across Britain that have drawn people together in public, communal experiences. Merrie Albion ranges across several of his projects from the last decade, projects that have explored not only our leisure landscape but also our social and political landscape. The book registers a distinct shift in approach, and tone, from his work in We English. Roberts has exchanged the element of discovery and revelation evident in his earlier travels through England, for a form of ‘reporting’, in which he responds to subjects and places that are already firmly positioned within the public consciousness – defining locations in our recent national story.
“Released in the wake of the nationalist triumph of Brexit, this brilliant new book takes the temperature of the UK, offering insights most necessary into notions of identity and belonging and, specifically, what it means to be British at this significant moment in contemporary history. With his customary elevated perspective and tableaux style, we oversee views of places and the people that populate them to form a survey: not only of spaces used for leisure and cultural activity but also subjects and events that can now be viewed as defining locations in recent times, such as the London 2012 Opening Ceremony or Grenfell Tower. A real socio-political mood piece, the power and urgency of which reminds us why Roberts is regarded as one of the leading UK photographers working today.” Tim Clark, 1000 Words, December 2017
Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island was published by Dewi Lewis Publishing (November 2017) and made possible thanks to the support of The Incite Project. The book includes an introduction by David Chandler and essay contributions from AL Kennedy, Alex Vasudevan, Carol Ann Duffy, David Matless, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Ian Jeffrey, Irenosen Okojie, Nikesh Shukla and Tristram Hunt.
An exhibition of Merrie Albion runs at Flowers Gallery in London from 19 January – 10 March and in New York from October 2018.
Contact sheet of photographic plates (pdf)
Initial reviews – January 2018 (link)
Gatherings essay by David Chandler (link)
i-SPY essay by Frank Cottrell-Boyce (link)
Reality & Ritual in the Theatre of the Election by Tristram Hunt (link)
At Ease essay by David Matless (link)
Of Other Spaces essay by Irenosen Okojie (link)
Occupying the Frame essay by Alexander Vasudevan (link)