From this year’s Master of Photography, Martin Parr, to work by Jack Davison, Nan Goldin, Daidō Moriyama, Harley Weir and Tim Walker; here’s your guide to navigating Photo London this year
It’s May, which means London’s most comprehensive photography fair is back once more at Somerset House. The eighth iteration of Photo London is set to be one of the best and busiest in to date, though with over 100 global exhibitors taking part in addition talks, activations and much more, it can be a bit overwhelming to decipher what to see. Panic not though: we’ve got you covered.
The inimitable Martin Parr has been named this year’s Master of Photography, and in celebration, a sprawling survey of his wry, spontaneous work shot over the past 50 years will be presented alongside a brand new series set to debut at the fair. Elsewhere, the Hyman Collection is spotlighting woman photographers in the UK of eras past and present; Tokyo-based Zen Foto gallery presents a captivating edit of Japanese street photography; several galleries are paying homage to Iranian image-makers; and a smattering of not-to-miss solo shows will shine a light on the likes of Jack Davison, Maisie Cousins, Sam Wright and more.
Here, your guide to Photo London 2023:
2023 Master of Photography: Martin Parr
Legendary British photographer Martin Parr is the recipient of this year’s Master of Photography prize. Celebrating Parr’s doggedly prolific output – a body of work which spans five decades, and documents humour and humanity in many walks of everyday life – the show will present a selection of never-before-seen images taken in the UK alongside his seminal colour works and early black and white pictures. “It’s a great honour to be named Master of Photography at Photo London,” says Parr. “I relish the opportunity to show a totally new exhibition of work of images taken in the UK, a project that I have been working on for the last 50 years!”
With an unparalleled roster of photographic artists in its sphere, Magnum Photos’ Photo London display never fails to impress. This year, it presents a moving group exhibition which explores ideas of place and belonging around the world, mixing Alec Soth’s gentle portraits of middle America and Bogotá, Gregory Halpern’s lyrical yet gritty images of the American Rust Belt and Lindokuhle Sobekwa’s cinematic shots of Johannesburg. The show also includes works by two hugely influential British photographers; the inimitable Chris Killip, once a mentor to Gregory Halpern, and the fair’s 2023 Master of Photography, Martin Parr.
Street Photography in Japan at Zen Foto
Tokyo-based Zen Foto gallery’s fascinating selection primarily surveys street photography and documentary photography lensed in Japan over the past few decades. Touching on themes of community, sex, self and daily life, the show includes works by Japanese photographers like Seiji Kurata, Tamiko Nishimura, Hideka Tonomura, and Kazuyoshi Usui as well as photography by the likes of Chris Shaw and Robert Frank.
Surrealism at Galerie Sophie Scheidecker
Don’t miss Galerie Sophie Scheidecker’s mind-opening group show at the fair, which charts the evolution of surrealism in photography over the course of the last century. The display mixes works by pioneers like Man Ray and Manuel Álvarez Bravo with eerie, dreamlike portraits by contemporary artists such as Nan Goldin and Justine Tjallinks. “Through photography artists can represent what is beyond reality,” the gallery says of the curation. “Exploring the human unconscious, blurring the line between real and unreal.”
Sam Wright at New Dimension
Housed in the fair’s Discovery section – which shines a light on new forces in the photographic world – is Sheffield-born Sam Wright’s tender study of Naples. Shot in 2022, the series comprises warm, sun-saturated imagery capturing the lives of Neapolitan locals in which the presence of the sea, volcanic landscapes, regional food and the mythologies of icons like Diego Maradona and Pino Daniele reverberate to transportive effect. This year, the series – The City Of The Sun – is set to become the first publication released by New Dimension.
Michael Hoppen Gallery
For over 30 years, Michael Hoppen Gallery has been championing the careers of new, future-facing photographic artists and exhibiting them alongside masters of the medium. The gallery’s 2023 offering at Photo London presents a snapshot of this ethos, mixing works by greats like Sarah Moon, Peter Beard, Daidō Moriyama and Tim Walker with imagery by modern day trailblazers such as Harley Weir.
Jack Davison at Cob Gallery
Cob Gallery presents a selection of dramatic works by Jack Davison from his solo show Photographic Etchings, which was first on view at the north London-based gallery in the autumn of 2022. Created over some 14 years, the images were made using a heavily labour-intensive and often messy process called “photogravure”, which involves transferring an image onto a copper etching plate and printing it using ink and paper. “I see it as similar to gardening in some ways,” he told AnOther last year. “There’s something about the physicality of the work and having dirty hands that I really like. It’s a very meditative process that allows you to play with these images but not overthink them.”
Read AnOther’s feature on the series here.
British Civil Rights at Atlas Gallery
The London-based Atlas Gallery’s powerful Photo London exhibit shines a light on British Civil Rights and anti-racist movements in the UK between the 1960-80s. Blending moments of joy and struggle, the show presents an honest document of life for London and Birmingham’s African-Caribbean communities during a transformative moment in British history. The show includes documentary imagery of Notting Hill Carnival, the Southall Riots and the 1985 Handsworth Riots lensed by image-makers like Armet Francis, Charlie Phillips and Syd Shelton.
Writing Her Own Script: Woman Photographers from the Hyman Collection
‘Writing Her Own Script’ borrows its name from a large-scale 1982 photograph by Susan Hiller: a fragmented self-portrait which shows a representation of a woman’s face covered in rapidly scrawled calligraphy. The show itself charts 100 years of pioneering photography lensed by women image-makers in Britain – from Shirley Baker’s tender street photography to Eliza Hatch’s contemporary portraits of women – and encompasses both traditional documentary works and imagery of an introspective “personal, performative” nature. All the works on view are presented by the Hyman Collection, one of the world’s most extensive collections of British photography.
Maisie Cousins at TJ Boulting
Presented in tandem with Fitzrovia-based gallery TJ Boulting’s new exhibition opening this week, artist Maisie Cousins’ solo booth at Photo London presents a surreal yet heartfelt exploration of her personal childhood memories. Expressed through visceral photography, new AI works and installation pieces, the show reveals an obsession with Blobbyland – the theme park near her home in Somerset – and the “unique folklore” of British camping holidays.
Founded in 2020, Homecoming is an online-first gallery created as an “accessible, diverse and exciting space” championing a new generation of photographic talent from around the world. Its offering for Photo London 2023 brings together a vibrant mixture artists who operate in varying photographic practices, including Fenna Schilling, who specialises in surreal still life-inspired imagery; AnOther contributor Eddie Wrey, who is best-known for dreamlike fashion imagery lensed in nature; Pia Riverola, whose bustling images of Mexico have attracted her a huge online following; and Ghanaian photographer Derrick Ofosu Boateng, who creates highly-stylised and brightly-hued portraits shot in Accra.
Iranian Photography at LS10 gallery, O Gallery and Roya Khadjavi Projects / Nemazee Fine Art
This edition of Photo London sees a focus on Iranian photography at several galleries, including London-based LS10 Gallery, which offers a “rare glimpse into the crosscurrents of contemporary art in Iran”; New York-based Roya Khadjavi Projects / Nemazee Fine Art, which brings together the works of five Iranian documentary photographers; and Tehran-based O Gallery, where works by Mohammedreza Mirzaei will be shown alongside rare prints by Kaveh Kazemi, whose photographs document the Iranian Revolution of the 1970s.
LGBTQ+ Stories at Albumen Gallery
Albumen Gallery brings together three photographers whose work explores themes of gender identity and queer rights around the world. Documenting different geographies and bridging four decades, the artists on view are Rosa Gauditano, who’s photographs capture life in 1970s and 80s Brazil; Monique Relova, who photographed transgender communities near Bangalore in southern India in the 2000s; and American photographer Elizabeth Waterman, who is best known for her electrifying portraits of drag artists and contemporary club culture in the US.
Photo London at Dover Street Market
Beyond the fair’s official celebrations at Somerset House, a number of smaller events will be taking place across the city. Make sure you head down to Dover Street Market tonight, where a series of special installations, activations and exclusive products will be launched throughout the iconoclastic Haymarket store, including a special spotlight on disruptive new interiors magazine TON, posters by Harley Weir, and a zine by Joyce NG.
David Moore at Sion and Moore
Although not officially part of Photo London, another brilliant photography show opens over the weekend in east London’s beloved Claire de Rouen Books space. Sion and Moore (an art space run by Kim Sion and Lucy Kumara Moore) are putting on an exhibition dedicated to the haunting work of documentary photographer David Moore. Connecting Works 1986-1994 will feature his early work focusing on English domestic interiors in the Midlands during the mid-1980s, alongside closely cropped, hedonistic photos of the upper classes drinking and dining in London during the late 80s and early 90s, made as a result of Moore posing as a society photographer.
Connecting Works 1986-1994 by David Moore is on show at 260 Globe Road in London from 13 – 27 May 2023. Opening times are from Thursday to Saturday 1 – 6pm.