Exhibition: Anna Fox: RESORT
Dates: 25th June 2011 – 2nd October 2011
Description: Butlin’s holiday camps first opened in 1936 as holiday centres for the great mass of working-class families, becoming a familiar part of British culture and folklore. Contemporary photographer Anna Fox has spent two years spent photographing life at Butlin’s, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, one of only three remaining in the UK. Anna Fox: RESORT, timed to celebrate the 75th anniversary, showcases Anna Fox’s specially-commissioned images providing a vital and highly charged insight into the Butlins holiday experience
Review: Everyone has their views of Butlins and more often than not they fall into two categories. There are those who look upon it with nostalgic fondness, fuelled by childhood memories of the great British break by the seaside. And then there are those who wouldn’t want to be within throwing distance of a redcoat, and if they were they would probably do just that – throw something.
It is this divide which makes Anna Fox’s documentary photography so delicious. After all good art is that which provokes a reaction, feelings or debate, and if RESORT doesn’t do that then to be honest I don’t think you are looking hard enough. But don’t just take my word for it, glimpse inside the comment book to see what I mean.
The best thing is the reaction it conjures is completely down to individual interpretation. If you are offended by the images and see it as “snobby” than that impression originates from your own view of what is on show. Granted it could be said Fox directs you to the not so picture perfect side of things.
The image of santa clearly shows a crack in the ceiling, the one of a winter wonderland doesn’t stop when the magic does – drawing your eye upwards and revealing the creation of the fantasy. But she is just documenting what she sees. The judgement comes from the viewer.
The exhibit certainly seems to prove the statement that “A picture is worth a thousand words” to be true. I for one can’t help but create a narrative around the snapshots on display. My favourite image is of a little girl, swamped by the loud bowling alley around her, lining up her shot while wearing her fairy wings.
There is however something we are not allowed to see. The collection has another side to it. Images documenting the Adult Weekends. However Butlin’s has requested they not be shown, instead they sit behind glass in a big red book. A colour which I can’t help to think is very fitting. After all red is the colour of sex, danger and stop signs.