John Bulmer exhibition: The Pembridge Series

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The Keep presents

in Richard Booth’s Bookshop café,
25th May 2016 – Summer 2016

Photography by

John Bulmer

“When you grow up in a place, you always think it’s mundane. Then you travel around and live in different places and you realise you’ve got it the wrong way round. It’s where you come from that’s the strange, exotic, quirky, mad place.” So says author Irvine Welsh. Photographer John Bulmer might agree.

In 1966, Bulmer was commissioned by The Sunday Times Magazine to make a colour photo study of a picturesque but living English village. In a period of social change, it should combine all the traditionally nostalgic photogenic elements with the realities of everyday modern working life. Pembridge, in rural Herefordshire, fitted the bill.

Coincidentally, John Bulmer had been brought up in the small village of Breinton, only a few miles away. As a roving photojournalist, happy to travel the world because he had “felt it was easier to work away from home where things were strange and exotic because they were different”, in Pembridge he discovered “a quality in the people and in the images that I found exciting even though I was close to home.”

Bulmer stayed in the village for about a week, preferring candid pictures to posed photographs. Of his work, he has said, “I try to get that decisive moment – to get a split second in time where everything is in the right place. Quite often people see you but they are not posing for you. There is a difference between people reacting to you and people posing for you.”

John Bulmer’s pictures of Pembridge illustrate the life and character of the village over a few days of summer fifty years ago. The exhibition of his photo essay in Pembridge in 2015, and at Hereford College of art from April to May this year, are literally snapshots of the decisive moment when the working English village, still lively with young people, was about to become a tourist showpiece preserved in a historical aspic.

The pictures from Pembridge will be exhibited at Richard Booth’s Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, courtesy of John Bulmer & The Keep, from the 23rd of May 2016 until Summer.

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