Self-described “documentarist” Daniel Meadows has made countless contributions to contemporary photography. In addition to influencing the creative field, however, his work has also played a pivotal role in a much larger realm: British society as a whole. Daniel Meadows: Now and Then, an eye-opening exhibition at Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, explores how the Gloucestershire-born figure has captured “the extraordinary aspects of ordinary life.”
Now and Then gives viewers a comprehensive glimpse into Meadows’ practice. The unique exhibition comprises film and photography which began in the 1970s, when Meadows started the Free Photographic Omnibus, a project in which he set up complimentary portrait studios across the country. Catered toward strangers, these photography sessions culminated in some of Meadows’ most celebrated work—and, in turn, are central to Now and Then.
Now and Then features 34 photographs taken as part of this project. Arranged as pairs, they document the same people separated by a period of roughly 25 years. Much more than a study of aging, these photos reflect changes in society; namely, they document a changing Britain. A press release reads: “These photographs—children, adults, couples captured in the 1970s and again in the 1990s—along with their many connected stories, have made a very important contribution to documentary journalism in our lifetime.”
On top of offering a visual time capsule of British culture, this exhibition serves as a retrospective of Meadows’ work, making it a must-see for fans and fellow photographers alike. “Daniel Meadows: Now and Then . . . provides Daniel’s unique perspective on British society in recent decades,” says Bodley’s Librarian, Richard Ovenden. “We are truly honored to have been gifted his archive which will be a major resource for scholars, and an inspiration for photographers.”
Daniel Meadows: Now and Then is on view at the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries Oxford, from October 4 through November 24 2019.