Not many have been able to capture the spirit of 20th Century Britain quite like Edwin Smith. One of the country’s most celebrated photographers of the last century finally gets his due at the Royal Institute of British Architects this Autumn with an extraordinary retrospective of a career that spans almost 40 years.
Ordinary Beauty: The Photography of Edwin Smith features over 100 images pulled from an astounding collection of 20,000 prints and almost 60,000 negatives donated to and archived by the RIBA. Smith took a sociological approach to capturing evocative imagery of local cityscapes and countrysides of Britain and social life of the people within it. His focus on finding beauty in the everyday resonates with what we do here at Sunspel.
Born in 1912, Edwin Smith originally trained as an architect before dropping out of school to become a draughtsman. His career in photography began in 1935 in the fashion industry where he shot for Vogue, but true interests lied in documenting the mining communities of Northern England and the docklands of Newcastle. This dedication to representing the social fabric of postwar Britain made him a highly sought after photographer and artist by the publishing and art worlds alike.
Ordinary Beauty is currently running at the new Architecture Gallery at 66 Portland Place until December 6th.