Country Life 1983–1985

Country Life is a series of fourteen images with text. They were taken in London, Scotland and Oxfordshire in domestic interiors and gardens laid out according to the picturesque canons of the eighteenth century. The work was commissioned by The Photographers’ Gallery for a group exhibit entitled Britain in 1984. Although I was asked to document changes that new technologies had created, I chose instead to refer to the attitudes and activities of the British landed gentry. These were aspects of Britain in 1984 that had changed little. Country Life, like my earlier works Belgravia (1979-81) and Gentlemen (1981-83), parodies class attitudes, the received ideas of the 1980’s under Thatcherism. (Margaret Thatcher as prime minister 1979-1990) This series differs, in that I appropriate the still life and landscape genres to plot the traces of the leisure class. Nature, like the objects photographed, is property. Objects inside and outside serve to commemorate past family histories. Looking at Country Life today the development of labour’s classless society is still a project to be striven for.. Social networks based on favour, privilege and accidents of birth continue despite new technologies and progress.