Living Room (SIGNED)

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Jesus Blue, 2024. Edition of 550 copies. Hardcover with dust jacket, 72 pp., 61 unseen photographs, color illustrated, 250 x 327 mm. Photographs by Nick Waplington. Adapted from the original design by Tibor Kalman.

Nick Waplington’s first book, Living Room, was published in 1991, and was an instant sensation within the photography world and beyond. The photographs documented the lives of friends, family and neighbours on the Broxtowe housing estate in Nottingham, where Waplington spent many years.

“What is remarkable about the photographs is the special way in which they make the intimate something public; something that we, who do not know personally the two families photographed, can look at without any sense (or thrill) of intrusion.” writes John Berger in the accompanying essay.

By the late 1980s England had experienced ten years of Conservative government, the collapse of industry, the rise in poverty and unemployment, and centralized government’s abandonment of people and place. It is in this context that Waplington spent four years documenting the daily lives of two working-class families on a council estate in Nottingham, England. Rather than embracing the contemporary photographic conventions of social realism, Waplington chronicled the lives of these families in saturated color, capturing an intimate narrative with poignancy and an unexpected humour.

We are thrust into the raw mechanisms of the family unit, exposing the viewer to every intimate moment of domesticity and laying bare the private sanctity of home. Although chaotic visits to local stores and expectant encounters with ice cream vans are all documented, it is in the living room of the title that provides the theatrical backdrop to most of the daily disorder.

Nick Waplington makes no dramatic social statements, but rather a quite touching (matter-of-fact) chronicle of the daily struggle of the working-class. In many ways, this makes the work a far more affecting critique of poverty. Living Room is a tender and poignant debut title, wonderfully documenting the physical and physiological dysfunctionality of families enduring the plight of economic deficiency.


UK and US-based artist Nick Waplington works with photography as a medium to submerge in communities resulting in personal involvement and visual work. He caught John Berger’s, Richard Avedon’s and the rest of the world’s attention in the 1990s with Living Room and has since then created recognisable, frank representations of people and their sociopolitical backgrounds ranging from a DIY, post Punk youth navigating Thatcherism, the heyday of House and rave culture in 1990s NYC or documenting the last collection of close friend Alexander McQueen at his London studio. Waplington has had solo shows at the Tate Britain and The Photographers Gallery in London among other institutions and his works are part of the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Victoria and Albert Museum and Government Art Collection in London or the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Read more:

The Guardian

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