Image: 'Ideal' fish and chip shop, London, 1958. © Edwin Smith / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Roofscape, Whitby, North Yorkshire, 1959.
© Edwin Smith / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Hailed by Sir John Betjeman as a ‘genius at photography’ and by Cecil Beaton as ‘an understanding and loving connoisseur of his subject’, Edwin Smith captured the essence of the places, landscapes and buildings he photographed.
Ordinary Beauty: The Photography of Edwin Smith will display over 100 extraordinary black and white photographs from a collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints given by Olive Cook, Smith’s widow and collaborator, to the RIBA Library. From urban scenes documenting British social history to evocative landscape images and atmospheric interiors, the images displayed reveal the genius and breadth of his work. Alongside his images of Britain the exhibition will show photographs taken on his travels to Europe as well as his published books and photographic equipment. Specially filmed contributions ranging from Alan Bennett to broadcaster Gillian Darley offer personal perspectives of Smith’s work.
Edwin Smith was highly sought-after by publishers and in the 1950s he was commissioned by Thames & Hudson for a series of books, among them English Parish Churches (1952), English Cottages & Farmhouses (1954), Scotland (1955), England (1957), and The Living City: A New View of the City of London (1957). His work also featured in Vogue, Shell Guides and numerous other publications to illustrate features and books on subjects varying from Great Houses of Europe to The Wonders of Italy .