Masters of their art

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South Shore’s legendary Fun House at the Pleasure Beach, street scenes of Blackpool and the former annual Christmas Tree Ball are all part of an exhibition planned for a 100th anniversary of the Grundy Art Gallery.

Mass Photography: Blackpool Through the Camera will run from August 6 to November 5 at the Queen Street gallery

The exhibition is a collection of photographs of the town through the years, with work from distinguished photographers including Ian Berry, Geoff Buono, Martin Parr, Alfred Gregory, Bruce Davidson, Bert Hardy, Barry Lewis, Peter Marlow, Tony Ray-Jones, Ian Smith, Humphrey Spender, Chris Steele-Perkins and Homer Sykes,

Photography has always played an important role in the lives of the millions of Blackpool holiday-makers who have been visiting – initially relying on the “Walkie Snap men” and the photo-booth.

With the advent of the iPhone, the digital camera and social media, our leisure time is recorded and published more than ever before. Mass Photography: Blackpool seen through the camera, however, looks at the holiday experience not from a personal perspective but through the lenses of professional photographers, journalists and artists.

The exhibition includes work by Humphrey Spender and Julian Trevelyan, part of the Mass Observation group that visited Blackpool in the summer of 1937. Along with the Mass Observation agenda, their work depicts those time old holiday rituals and pleasures from an objective point of view.

The exhibition will also feature images from the town’s own local archives, from the late 19th century to the present day, including the Pleasure Beach, The Tower and The Winter Gardens – images that illustrate just why Blackpool holds such a special place in the heart of the nation.

The late Alfred Gregory, photographer, explorer and mountaineer sums up the mood.

“When I returned from an expedition to the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda, where I had been photographing in hot steamy valleys amidst wondrous vegetation the shock of suddenly finding myself in Blackpool at the height of the holiday season was tremendous,” he said. “I realised what I was looking at was just as sensational, if not actually more so, than what I searched for across the world.”