Pictures from the Church of England Information Office
One of the more unusual art exhibitions this summer is in the Churchyard of Southwark Cathedral, entitled Archetypes and Archives: A vision of Britain as seen through the lens of Church of England Information Office.
This great exhibition features images drawn from a collection of 9000 black and white photographic negatives, from Church of England Record Centre collections, uncovered in 2013.
Taken between 1960 and 1967 by W.R. Hawes, the Church of England’s Information Office’s official photographer; it was envisaged that these images of relevant, often symbolic, views of everyday life would be used to create a picture library representing the Church’s activities, actions and teachings.
Sometimes funny, often thought-provoking and always of interest the images as a whole provide a snapshot of life in Britain during the time, the 60’s, of major change and upheaval.
This exhibition consists of 30 images each accompanied by a caption providing contextual information as well as relevant quotes from various sources. Each panel also features a smartphone-readable QR code directing the visitor to further sources and providing more information on the given subject.
The Church of England Record Centre holds the archives of the central institutions of the Church of England and their predecessor organisations relating to the functions and activities of the Anglican Church in England, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
When I viewed the exhibition, I was moved at the thought-provoking nature of the pictures, partly, because they showed ordinary people in the 1960s, and it highlighted how the Church responded to this decade of great social change. Many exhibitions of this decade often show the most glamorous people, but this highlights real life, in moments that will never be repeated, which makes photo exhibitions a great joy.
It is also good to see a church location, (where some of the Creative Network members worship) exhibit photos in this way. The exhibition is well laid out, and in a great location being a stone’s throw from the bustle of the modern Borough Market and the City of London. Running until the 30 September, you can view the exhibition, and then scurry back into the stone interior of the medieval thick walls of the Cathedral Nave to consider its response. It is open from 8 am – 6 pm every day.