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The Oxford Pictures.

Photographs by Paddy Summerfield. Text by Gerry Badger and Patricia Baker Cassidy.
Dewi Lewis Publishing, Stockport, England, 2016. 96 pp., 57 duotone illustrations, 8¾x9¾".



Publisher's Description

Between 1968 to 1978, Paddy Summerfield photographed Oxford students in the summer terms. No older than his subjects, he shared their uncertainties: “I was young and unsure and found a way to show this. I felt like an outsider, and lonely, that there was always something going on, parties and drinking, but elsewhere. Often, I sensed a loneliness in the students I photographed. We were all lonely together.”

Though he found his subjects beside the rivers and on sunlit college lawns, Summerfield’s images primarily express the insecurities and pain of youth. His psychological approach is driven by the tension between the yearning for love, and sexual anxiety. Solitary figures represent his own isolation, an experience that many will recognise. Rituals are played out, frivolity and romance give way to revision and exams, then celebrations that collapse into debauchery, and regret. The students depart and are replaced; only the stones remain.

Oxford-based, Summerfield, trained at Guildford School of Art in the Photography and the Film departments. Photographs he took in 1967, when still a first year student, were published in Album, and spreads in Creative Camera received encouraging recognition. His work has been shown in many galleries, including the ICA, The Barbican, The Serpentine Gallery, and The Photographers’ Gallery. In 1976, Sir Nicholas Serota (then director of MOMA, Oxford) invited Summerfield to exhibit ‘Beneath The Dreaming Spires’, his first one-man show. His work is in the collections of the Arts Council and of the V&A, as well as in numerous private collections. His first book, Mother And Father (2014. Dewi Lewis Publishing) was widely reviewed, and included in several lists of the ‘Best Photobooks of 2014’.

Read the review by Christopher J Johnson on photo-eye Blog


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