Photography from Peter Dench: History museum shows “Made in England”

Photography from Peter Dench : History museum shows “Made in England”

British photographer Peter Dench has an eye for detail and has captured some everyday, honest images of his fellow countrymen. They can be viewed at the Subway Gallery until November of 2019.

A proper English breakfast has four courses: it begins with fruit, followed by cereal or porridge. Then comes the next part which has escaped the embrace of the European continent. Hearty, fat-laden and warm - not everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak. Fried sausages, scrambled or fried eggs, served with bacon, potatoes and white beans in tomato sauce? Those who surrender can at least take advantage of the toast and jam with a cup of tea.

British photographer Peter Dench has found an even more palatable way of transporting England and photographed two such breakfast plates at a café in Blackpool. The photo, taken in July 2008, can now be seen in the subway gallery of the Haus der Geschichte (History museum) until November 10, 2019, together with 19 of his other pictures, under the title "Made in England".

Remarkable eye for detail

Dench's selection from the years 1998 to 2018 takes an uncompromising look at his countrymen - in everyday surroundings and in more or less everyday situations. Like our friends Lorraine and Trish from Warrington, who in May 2018 - on the wedding day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle - are waiting in Windsor dressed as brides, standing at a typical red telephone booth. One holds the two obligatory paper flags, the other a cigarette between the fingers of her right hand. And both reveal Dench's remarkable eye for detail.

In the photo, the British spring weather seems to be warm enough for shoulder-free dresses. And this relative "immunity to the cold on the part of British women between 15 and 55 years of age " is one of the phenomena that continues to amaze and amuse Professor Dr. Uwe Baumann - Professor of English Literature and Culture at the University of Bonn.

Dench himself is "Made in England". Born in 1972 in Weymouth, he completed his studies in photography at the University of Derby in 1995 and has worked as a photojournalist for numerous national and international media, including the German magazine "Stern", since 1998. In 2002 he received a World Press Photo Award for the series "Drinking of England".

Dench shows illusion and reality

According to Baumann, Dench shows this "illusion and reality; without glossing over anything or wanting to stage it dramatically at any cost". His photographs confront the fine English manner with reality, which is not always so gentlemanly. The skinhead photographed in April 2001 from a pub in Bacup County, Lancashire offers a vivid example of this. A couple who watched a Wimbledon broadcast in 2001, with their national flag and umbrella, appear more likable.

"I already knew as a child that I would like to make my contribution to the way England is seen," Dench said at the opening of the exhibition. He added that he hoped those who viewed the exhibition would take in the photographs with a smile. In a classic British understatement, he also mentioned that he shared a birthday with Willam Shakespeare and William Turner.

Made in England. Photographs by Peter Dench, exhibition open until November 10, 2019, U-Bahn Galerie (Subway Gallery)

Orig. text: Ulrike Strauch

Translation: ck

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