23/05/2024

Nothing Lasts Forever: Leeds Art Fund brunch and exhibition tour with Peter Mitchell

Peter Mitchell, photographer, following a brunch at the Gallery. Photo credit: Joyce Baldwin
Peter Mitchell, photographer, following a brunch at the Gallery. Photo credit: Jocelyn Baldwin

Leeds Art Fund members enjoyed a brunch with Peter Mitchell and an animated talk about his work and Leeds experiences before walking round his exhibition, Nothing Last Forever at Leeds Art Gallery. Jaqueline Laane, an Estonian illustrator based in Leeds, has kindly recorded her impressions of the day.

Peter Mitchell, photographer, following a brunch at the Gallery. Photo credit: Joyce Baldwin
Peter Mitchell, photographer, following a brunch at the Gallery. Photo credit: Jocelyn Baldwin

“Has every picture in the world been taken?” someone asks from the back of the room.

“The world is never empty” replies Peter Mitchell, the renowed photographer who’s retrospective is currently exhibited at the Leeds Art Gallery. “You have to find out how photograohy works for you. Getting yourself into the photograph — it’s a natural process.”

After a short introduction and greeting from Mitchell, people gather in the first room of the exhibition where the question of What would life on Earth look like through the eyes of a martian? has inspired a series of life-affirming photographs that capture the mundane moments of Leeds.

Mitchell comments on his decision to shoot in colour: “Mine [photographs] were in colour. Nobody else at all was using colour and I got a lot of criticism: It’s documentary photography, so why is it in colour? Where’s all that graininess, where’s that grittiness, where’s that political aspect? It’s nothing like that I just see these pictures and I take them.”

In the next room, a series of photographs looking at the Quarry Hill Flats, once the largest social housing complex in Britain, is shown. Empty rooms with only a pair of shoes still in front of the dresser, half-dismantled walls and living room sofas – the world Mitchell has recorded feels uprooted and completely intact. A feeling that fits well with the nature of the demolishment, Mitchell says: “They started knocking it down like they’d knock down a tree. With 3000 people still living there.”

Mitchell’s photography carries people’s instinct to keep alive, or get married. The photographs have created a vault of memories for a generation who still recognises the Leeds in the pictures, however, they are also helping to shape a deeper cultural understanding of familiar places for younger generations who walk the same streets.

Event report by Jaqueline Laane

Upcoming events from Leeds Art Fund

Tuscan Summer, Maurice de Sausmarez 1955 © Courtesy of Jane de Sausmarez. Purchased with funding from the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund and the Friends of University Art and Music (Leeds), 2018. Image credit: University of Leeds

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