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UAL Research Online

Alan Kane and Humphrey Spender

Kane, Alan and Spender, Humphrey (2007) Alan Kane and Humphrey Spender. [Show/Exhibition]

Type of Research: Show/Exhibition
Creators: Kane, Alan and Spender, Humphrey

Alan Kane exhibited 32 colour photographs from the series 'Trying to die happy', documenting drinking culture in Soho, London in the late 1990s to early 2000s, together with 15 photographs by Humphrey Spender (1910–2005), whose images document drinking culture in the 1930s.

My images blur distinctions between artist and audience consistent with my general research direction. The camera is treated as an invitation to perform and a mechanism for framing everyday creativity as much as a tool for making something new. My photographs contrasted with the covert work of Spender who, through his association with Mass Observation in Bolton in 1937/8, participated in the birth of domestic sociological enquiry and modern marketing.

My photographs did much to initiate more formal anthropological investigation by the Folk Archive. They are similarly concerned with sustaining, generating and focusing on the significance of the prosaic: exploring how art can exist in every aspect of the daily lives of us all. Spender joined Mass Observation, the social research organisation that grew out of anthropology and surrealism, to study the everyday lives of people in Britain and to produce a ground-breaking 'anthropology of ourselves'.

Showing these two distinct photographic practices together I drew parallels in the formal subjects of each while highlighting the significant distinctions in approach my cultural concepts dictated.

My initial research was concentrated in Bolton (or, as Mass Observation classified it for the purposes of their study, Worktown). I worked with Ancient and Modern, Bolton Museums and Art Gallery and Rachel Spender, the widow of Humphrey Spender, to produce the exhibition.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 13 January 2007
Event Location: Ancient and Modern, London
Material/Media: photographs
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2009 23:38
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2023 15:11
Item ID: 1471
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471

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