First photographic exhibition at Turner Contemporary will explore the British seaside

Butlins holiday camp, Minehead 1979 by Dafydd Jones

An exploration of the relationship between photographers, photography and the British seaside from the 1850s to the present day will open at Turner Contemporary in May.

Seaside: Photographed includes early photographic depictions of waves, picture postcards revelling in the glee and grime of British resorts, intimate shots of holiday and relaxation and reportage and photo series of eminent photographers.

Since photography’s early beginnings  seaside images have charted enormous social change with playgrounds by the sea becoming places of last resort, rackety with decay, so much photographic evidence would insist.

However, the exhibition’s curators Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson say: “Photographers’ visions are necessarily partial ones – they follow their noses, sniff out the strange and the unusual, the comic and the melancholy. They do not necessarily picture things the way that they are.”

The curators have included unknown works from across photography’s history as well as images by such celebrated photographers as Jane Bown, Henri Cartier Bresson and Ingrid Pollard.

Exhibits include Raymond Lawson’s  chronicles of family life in Whitstable while Daniel Meadows, Barry Lewis and Dafydd Jones all photographed Butlins in the 1970s.

In response to Seaside: Photographed, artists Bethan Peters and Stacie Lee Bennett-Worth have been commissioned to create a new artwork inspired by residents.

This Spring they will deliver workshops to families with Thanet Early Years Project exploring the seaside through play, movement and digital media. They will create a work based on the ideas generated that will be available for the public to see in the Summer.

Seaside: Photographed is Turner Contemporary’s first photographic exhibition. A book to accompany the exhibition, will be available to pre-order via Turner Contemporary’s online shop, published by Thames & Hudson.

The exhibition opens on Saturday, May 25 until Sunday 8 September.