‘This England’ is the last collection of black-and-white images created for an exhibition by acclaimed local photographer Colin O’Brien, who chronicled the life of ordinary people in London and beyond, in every decade from the post-war years until he died suddenly on 19 August 2016. He chose in this new compilation to reflect his longstanding but heightened post-Brexit interest in capturing life and location beyond his home city and throughout his country, England. Colin had already selected pictures for this exhibition but he planned to travel to both Liverpool and Newcastle to take some new ones. Sadly, these cannot feature; however, for each picture in his previous exhibition at Unit G Gallery, ‘East London Life”, Colin relished in explaining a ‘last of’ story; an irony that would not be lost on him if he could be present.
“Bailey shot beauty; McCullin shot war; O’Brien shot the streets”, still rings around in our heads – Colin’s own third-person commentary about his work to set the context for a younger audience, held on 4th August 2016 at The Bootstrap Gallery in Dalston. This was jointly organised with Unit G Gallery in advance of his new exhibition, for Colin to speak and answer questions with amusing anecdotes about particular photographic eras. locations and subjects. In the light of the Brexit vote, Colin had already expressed to us his wish for the London-based arts community to reach out more often to reflect street life in other parts of England, as he had done himself many times before, and had hoped to do more often in the future.