A new exhibition at Huxley-Parlour Gallery in London is bringing together some of Bruce Davidson’s most iconic photographs as well as lesser-known work tracing 1960s Britain.
Bruce Davidson: A United Kingdom includes photographs taken on his two-month trip around Britain for a commission from The Queen magazine in 1960. During the project, the Magnum photographer initially spent time capturing London and the south-east of England, before travelling north to Scotland, focusing on the variances between city and country life as each approached modernisation at different paces.
Also included in the show are images from his photo essay of Wales taken several years later. The American photographer was originally on an assignment to capture Caernarfon Castle in north-west Wales, near the island of Anglesey.
On the same trip, he travelled to the southern mining village of Cwmcarn, after a Welsh sergeant told him it was where he would send his worst enemy. It was in nearby Ebbw Vale that he captured his iconic portrait of a young girl (often mistaken for a boy) pushing a pram up a lane against an industrial backdrop.
“A lot of people think it’s a boy but it’s actually a girl. I don’t think you’d find many boys in a mining town pushing a baby carriage like that. They wouldn’t stand a chance,” he said in a 2010 interview.
His career as a photographer has been defined by his ability to go into insular communities and produce revealing portraits for the world to see. The instinct was evidently always there for Davidson – a man who launched his photography career in the late 50s with an intimate photo series that saw him rub shoulders with Brooklyn gangs.
“I start off as an outsider, usually photographing other outsiders, then, at some point, I step over a line and become an insider,” he told the Guardian in 2011. “I don’t do detached observation.”
Bruce Davidson: A United Kingdom is on display at Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London until 14 March; huxleyparlour.com