In our upcoming sale Made in Britain (20 March, London), Sotheby’s is delighted to be including a selection of paintings and works on paper from the personal collection of Roger Mayne, one of the leading photographers of the 20th century who is most well-known for his candid photographs depicting Post-War Britain through poor urban communities in cities including London, Leeds, and Sheffield.
His most celebrated works are of Southam Street, W10, taken between 1956 and 1961, which document daily life on the street with particular focus on children, whose exuberance he contrasts with the urban squalor in which they lived. These works are considered one of the most important photographic surveys of city life in fifties Britain.
It was a visit to St Ives and the resulting friendship with artists such as Patrick Heron, Terry Frost and Roger Hilton and their art of the early 1950s that was to have an enormous impact on Mayne’s photographic style. Mayne became an early proponent of photography as art and consciously sought a dialogue with the paintings of the time, particularly the abstract art of the St Ives group. He not only took several portraits of these artists at work but was also employed by them to photograph their paintings. It is therefore extremely interesting to see this group of works, all from Mayne’s own personal collection which will be included in Made in Britiain, several of which were given directly to the photographer by the artists either as gifts or as payment for photographing their work.
This January marks the opening of a new exhibition celebrating Mayne’s work at Southampton City Art Gallery, exploring for the first time the depths of Mayne’s relationship with the St Ives artists and their influence on his work. This ground breaking exhibition juxtaposes Roger Mayne's photographs with paintings from Southampton City Art Gallery’s St. Ives collection, and draws from the Roger Mayne Archive, curated by Roger Mayne’s daughter, Katkin Tremayne.
Featured in the exhibition are Mayne’s portraits of the artists from the 1950s. These comprise some of the very first works he sold. Some of Mayne's early St. Ives work is well known, but other pieces, exploring abstraction, texture and form, are shown here for the first time. These early works show the photographer’s eye developing and show his progression towards the famous Southam Street series, also partly illustrated, and beyond to the large scale work from the mid-1960s.
MAIN IMAGE: PATRICK HERON, EMERALD, VIOLET, BROWN, BLUE, ORANGE: FEBRUARY - JANUARY 1971. ESTIMATE £12,000–18,000. FROM MADE IN BRITAIN, 20 MARCH 2018.