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Roger Mayne: the man who turned 'bad photography' into an art form 

Letting their hair down: Roger Mayne’s On the River Cam
Letting their hair down: Roger Mayne’s On the River Cam Credit: Mary Evans Picture Library
Roger Mayne’s revolutionary 'bad photography’ was ahead of its time, says Iona McLaren

Something about Roger Mayne’s black-and-white photographs of Southam Street, a slum in North Kensington that in 1963 was levelled to make way for Ernö Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower, “hit people’s mental funny bone”, as he put it.

Mayne’s endlessly reproduced portraits of grinning, racing children – among them, the sister of the future Home Secretary Alan Johnson – were much imitated, never bettered. Indeed, his study of the capital in the early Sixties has become so canonical that it will surprise some to learn that Mayne did not work entirely in London, nor only in black and white.

Roger Mayne’s A Cross-country Race Credit: Mary Evans Picture Library

After his death in 2014, his daughter Katkin Tremayne and curator Anna Douglas found hundreds of Kodachrome colour slides in a drawer of his archive. That they amounted to an immense survey in colour of British society at every...

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