2010 - Changing Britain

Changing Britain: Documentary Photography  from the Arts Council Collection

Britain has a long established and highly respected tradition of documentary photography. Drawn from the Arts Council Collection, this selection of photographs provided a fascinating insight into this country’s history over the past 75 years.   Beginning with photographs taken just a few years before the outbreak of the Second World War, it documented aspects of all our lives - our manners, our entertainment, our conflicts, personal and political, social divisions and our relationships with each other.  It underlined how irrevocably our country was changed by the War and helped us to see how we regard ourselves now,  individually and as a nation.

Changing Britain featured  many of this country’s best known photographers and included work by Bill Brandt, Tony Ray-Jones, Ian Berry and Martin Parr. The display captured not only the carnivals and comedies of a fast disappearing way of life but at times, portrayed a less comfortable and bleaker view of Britain.  Changing Britain also showed what binds us together as a nation:our struggles, conflict, dignity and sense of fun and the prospect of sharing imagesand experiences of our past.

This exhibition, post election, provided a context for the 2010 Election Artist Commission.  For the first time photography was the medium of choice and members of the public were also invited to submit, on line, photographs of their experiences of the election.  Simon Roberts, Election Artist, displayed his own interpretation and record of the campaign in the House of Commons the same year.





The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.