Motherland Simon Roberts @ Bank Street Arts

The photographs of  Britain’s Simon Roberts from his series Motherland are, paradoxically, both bleak and raw and yet almost distressingly pleasing to the eye and a kick to the brain… walk into Bank Street Arts based in Sheffield City Centre at a formative stage of development, housed in listed Georgian terraces only a stone’s throw from the market and the Cathedral.

Have a look and, even on-line, the work leaves you cold, on this scale, to see the detail of the images chosen, are a good representation of this work. Simon Roberts travelled throughout Russia between July 2004 and August 2005, making pictures in over 200 locations and creating one of the most extensive, comprehensive photographic accounts of this vast country by a Westerner.

His images are not clichéd representations of a Russia ground down by poverty and despair; rather, he presents a beautiful and awe-inspiring land, with a dignified people empowered by a growing optimism and a deep rooted sense of national esteem. Intimate and revealing portraits of contemporary Russians show us a diverse people, united by a sense of common identity and connected by a shared love of ‘the Motherland‘, while breathtaking landscapes reveal the complexity and uniqueness of the country.

Simon Roberts was born in London in 1974 and studied Human Geography at Sheffield University. He began work as a photographer in 1997 and his photo-essays have been widely published throughout the world, including in Details, Esquire, the Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and The Sunday Times. Awards for his work include the Ian Parry Scholarship (London 1998) and the Magenta Foundation Bright Spark Award (Toronto 2006). He lives with his wife and daughter in Brighton, England.

The book has never been bought, but hours have been spent looking through the pages (at Waterstones Sheffield), it has been as much an inspiration in the work of, we like to call urban/bucolic exploration of Sheffield and though we sometimes move over the border, there is enough subject matter to cover here in Sheffield, and comes to our town this important work.

Bank Street Arts is at 32-40 Bank Street Sheffield, S1 (phone 0114 346 3034) it’s open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, exhibition runs 11th May – 9th June 2010. Of course, nowhere near long enough and if you ever thought what was our inspiration: go and have a look, when we walked in our mouths opened wide, stunning work, we always suspected Bank Street Arts was long overdue in this city, we can only look forward to what they have up their sleeves next, what a joy and pleasure we shall have another peek and so should you come to think of it..

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