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"Graham uses the camera to expose the things we overlook. They are right there in front of all of us, yet we carry on with our own lives trying to make the world conform to our idea of it. Graham's pictures force us to open our eyes. He slashes through the everyday and in doing so lets in a little metaphorical ray of light to illuminate the subject." – Phil Coombs, The BBC
A1 - The Great North Road was Paul Graham's first book, published in 1983. Despite the UK having a vibrant photographic scene at the time, there were only handful of monographic books - Chris Killip and Martin Parr had one each - and no dedicated publishers or distributors. Graham had to self-publish A1, but as the first colour book, it had a startling impact on British photography. Uniting the tradition of social documentary with the fresh approach of new colour, A1 - The Great North Road was transformative on photography in the UK and paved the way for a new generation of British colour photographers to emerge, from Nick Waplington to Anna Fox, Richard Billingham to Tom Wood.
Spanning the full length of England and into Edinburgh, Graham travelled repeatedly along the 'Great North Road' with a large format camera, to record the people, buildings, and landscape of early 1980's Britain. Now 40 years old, this book is as much art as it is a historical document of the years of Margaret Thatcher’s government and the UK’s declining industrial base.
Graham went on to complete Beyond Caring (1985) and Troubled Land (1986), both of which became iconic bodies of work. Originally self-published and now rare, Graham's 1980's trilogy of books will be re-published over the coming years by MACK, ending with a limited edition box set of all 3 volumes.
Paul Graham (born 1956) is a British fine-art and documentary photographer. His use of color film in the early 1980s, at a time when British photography was dominated by traditional black-and-white social documentary, had a revolutionizing effect on the genre. Soon a new school of photography emerged with artists like Martin Parr, Richard Billingham, Simon Norfolk, and Nick Waplington making the switch to color.
In 2009, he won the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. He is also a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellow (1983), and a Guggenheim Fellow (2010). In 2012 he received the Hasselblad Award and the Paris Photo prize for the best photographic book of the past 15 years.
A1 - The Great North Road｜Paul Graham｜With text by Paul Kingsnorth｜ISBN 978-1-912339-94-5｜32.2 x 24.3cm｜96 pages｜Linen hardcover with tipped-in image｜Published by MACK｜Sep 2020