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Article: Exhibition: Bristol - Photographs by Jem Southam

Exhibition: Bristol - Photographs by Jem Southam

Exhibition: Bristol - Photographs by Jem Southam

A new exhibition from Jem Southam, opening 1st July at Society Cafe, Farr’s Lane, Narrow Quay, Bristol.

The exhibition showcases Southam’s striking photographs of Bristol Harbourside in the late 1970s and early 80s. The collection serves as a historical document, capturing the city’s industrial evolution and the transformative impact of time.


Merchant's Dock, Hotwells Road, 1978


The photographs shown here were all made between 1978 and 1983. They chronicle a period of significant change for Bristol, reflective of the wider experience of loss and regeneration in Britain at the time. Following centuries of activity in the city’s harbour, Southam documents the disused and neglected infrastructure in a brief period of calm before intensive redevelopment.

On display are a small selection from an archive of approximately 900 images. Prints of some of these images are available to buy and part of proceeds from print sales will be used to help clean and scan the extensive archive of Southam’s Bristol work. We hope that this archive will eventually find a home in the city where they will be both preserved and accessible.


Bristol Bridge from Welsh Back, 1979


RRB and Society Cafe are thrilled to be working together on this exciting exhibition. With the Cafe right on Bristol Harbourside, there couldn’t be a more perfect location to be showing Southam’s Harbour work. 

Society is a group of family owned specialty coffee shops with locations in Bath, Bristol, Oxford & Cheltenham. Owner, Adrian Campbell-Howard, has spoken of how important it is for him to have photography and art on show in the Cafe:


‘Photography is pretty much in my DNA.  I grew up with it as my grandad and dad were both keen amateur photographers.  Every Tuesday from about the age of 5 I was taken along to the weekly Tuesday photo club in Halifax where members would show their slides and talk about their work, hold competitions etc.  It stuck with me as I now practically see in 35mm.  I still prefer film, it has a soul, that I can’t ever seem to get from digital.  

Good photography takes you somewhere.  Makes you think out of yourself.  For me it’s very important to have great photography in the shops as it not only represents the standard of space that we want to offer to our customers but it adds an almost imperceptible layer of time’.  


Merchant's Dock, Hotwells Road, 1978


Southam’s latest book with RRB Photobooks, The Harbour, compiles this significant work. 

Also available are a range of prints of the work on show as well as collectable postcards and an exhibition poster.


See the full range here