James Smith— Luton Overlay30 November 2012 - 2 March 2013
For our next major exhibition in Luton Departure Lounge will work with artist James Smith to create a new and highly individual photographic interpretation of the town’s post-war built environment.
A recent graduate of the Royal College of Art, James Smith has an encyclopedic photographic knowledge of the remarkably varied building styles and materials, which are a defining architectural characteristic of much of post-war urban Britain.
Commissioned by Departure Lounge and UH Galleries, James has been closely observing and photographing Luton over recent months producing a picture which will be unfamiliar even to people who have lived in the town all their lives.
Postwar modernist architecture, which was originally ‘imported’ to the UK by European architects escaping tyranny and war on the continent, is currently undergoing a critical re-assessment. After World War II, in the most ambitious public building programme the UK has ever seen, modernism was substantially ‘Anglicised’ – integrated with the landscape – and ‘regionalised’ using local techniques and materials to create different regional variations
British modernism and particularly developments like the New Towns, although much discussed abroad fell into disrepute as the initial surge of optimism, which had seen the foundation of the new towns in the late 1940s gave way to a collective despondency in the 1960s and 70s
Fascinated as much by the architectural vision of the past as how today’s Lutonians fit in to, and use the cityscape Smith has picked out Luton’s often unnoticed or unseen architectural details producing a panorama which is at turns angular, elegant and even sculptural.
Luton Overlay is part of London Overspill a touring exhibition organised by the University of Hertfordshire Galleries (UH Galleries). Having launched in Hatfield in September Departure Lounge is the exhibition’s second venue. The tour will continue to Stevenage and Peterborough in 2013 compiling a comprehensive survey of the region’s post-war architectural typologies.
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