Skip to Main Content

This is Britain: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s

Past Exhibition

January 29 – June 11, 2023
West Building, Ground Floor, Galleries G27–⁠⁠G29

Britain experienced profound changes in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was racked by deindustrialization, urban uprisings, the controversial policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Photography became a central form of creative expression during this period, supported and disseminated through new schools, galleries, artists’ collectives, magazines, and government funding.

This is Britain brings together the work of a generation of photographers who were commenting on the deep unrest of these pivotal decades. Vanley Burke, Pogus Caesar, Anna Fox, Paul Graham, Sunil Gupta, Chris Killip, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Martin Parr, and others pictured communities, traditions, and landscapes affected by Britain’s shifting social and economic realities. Together, they photographed a nation redefining what it meant to be British and, ultimately, modern.

Explore Selected Works

Explore & Share

Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington

The exhibition is curated by Kara Felt, assistant curator of art at the Denver Botanic Gardens and a former Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art, with the organizational assistance of Diane Waggoner, Curator of Photographs, National Gallery of Art.

The exhibition is made possible through the leadership support of the Trellis Fund.

Admission is always free and passes are not required

Banner detail: Vanley Burke, Boy with Flag, Winford in Handsworth Park, 1970, printed 2022, gelatin silver print, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund