|Photograph © The Style Examiner / João Paulo Nunes|
Opening on 10 September 2014, ‘Ordinary Beauty: The Photography of Edwin Smith’ displays 120 black and white photographs from a collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints bequeathed to the RIBA Library in 2002 by Olive Cook, Smith’s widow and collaborator. The exhibition (adroitly curated by Valeria Carullo and Justine Sambrook) is organised under 10 thematic areas displayed on the walls and on two large cubes in the centre of RIBA’s compact Architecture Gallery (following an elegantly subdued design solution provided by Drinkall Dean). Alongside urban portraits, atmospheric interiors, and landscape images of Britain and Europe, the display is made richer by including Smith’s published books and photographic equipment, as well as filmed interviews with individuals who knew Smith in a personal capacity such as Alan Bennett and Gillian Darley.
|Campo San Giogio Maggiore, Venice, 1961 © Edwin Smith, RIBA Library Photographs Collection|
|St Columba's Wells, Londonderry (Derry) , N Ireland, 1965 © Edwin Smith, RIBA Library Photographs Collection|
|St Lawrence, Didmarton, Gloucestershire, 1962 © Edwin Smith, RIBA Library Photographs Collection|
|Kentish Town station, London 1936 © Edwin Smith, RIBA Library Photographs Collection|
Ultimately, ‘Ordinary Beauty: The Photography of Edwin Smith’ is not only a demonstration of the talent of a photographer whose name and large body of work is unreservedly owed more appreciation, but it is also a veritable document of British social history between the 1930s and 1960s that deserves further examination.
‘Ordinary Beauty: The Photography of Edwin Smith’ is open to the public between 10 September and 6 December 2014 at RIBA. Free curator tours take place every Friday at 13:30 for the duration of the exhibition. For more information, visit www.architecture.com/EdwinSmith.