The exhibition follows hot on the heels of Mitchell’s triumphant showing this summer at the prestigious Arles photography festival in the south of France, where his major series A New Refutation of the Viking 4 Space Mission, originally shown at Impressions Gallery in 1979, has been reconstructed in full.
Peter Mitchell has been quietly making photographs for over 40 years. He occupies an essential, yet too often peripheral, place in the early British colour documentary scene of the 1970s and 80s. This major survey will revisit work spanning Mitchell’s career, focussing on the part of the world he chose to concentrate his ever-curious photographic eye, Yorkshire.
The exhibition includes images never before shown publicly, many of which are recent photographs from Leeds, the city where Mitchell has lived and worked since 1972 and with which he has become synonymous. The exhibition also includes Mitchell’s rural landscapes, evoking nostalgia and offering a glimpse into life in the North of England.
Taken as a whole, the exhibition sheds light on the overlooked career of a pivotal photographer. With a watchful attentiveness to the world around him, Peter Mitchell has captured people and places, demolition and development over the past four decades. Planet Yorkshire will explore the breadth of Mitchell’s photographic practice to reveal an unexpected, contemporary and lightly spiritual side to his work.
Work featured in the exhibition includes:
The Derwent, a groundbreaking commission by Impressions Gallery in 1980, in which Mitchell explored the landscape and way of life along the Derwent River in Yorkshire.
In The Hydro, Harrogate Mitchell continued to demonstrate his interest in changing cityscapes by documenting the building of a then-elaborate aquatics complex constructed in the late 1990s.
Also included are a series of ‘secular prayers’ depicting shrines created by ordinary people, including the gates of Elland Road football ground following Billy Bremner’s death in 1997. Originally commissioned by the Henry Moore Institute for ArtTranspennine and shown in the setting of St Oswald’s Church, Methley, these images have not been shown publicly in almost two decades.
Anne Jackson Aged 68 commissioned by Harewood House, is a triptych presenting Anne Jackson’s tombstone in the graveyard at All Saints’ Church, flanked by two of Mitchell’s now signature scarecrows. Mitchell says of this work, ‘All photographs are the most explicit of memento mori and English country churchyards are amongst the most beautiful of places to be and take stock of our island universe.’
Annals of a Life-threatening Postcode presents Mitchell’s recent and ongoing series concerning the relationship of his home of 34 years to ‘time and the city both’. Incorporating portraiture and landscape and documenting the detritus and graffiti, inhabitants, homes and gardens of Spencer Place, Leeds, this series reveals a more contemporary side to Mitchell’s practice and brings it refreshingly into the 21st century.
Planet Yorkshire is co-curated by Kerry Harker and Anne McNeill