Paul Reas exhibition

12 March 2014

Exhibitions, Industry news

Cardiff resident Paul Reas is one of the most significant photographers to emerge from the new wave of British colour documentary of the mid-1980s. Spanning thirty years from Thatcherite Britain to today’s recession, and encompassing themes of class, consumption, work and leisure, this is the international premiere of Reas’ first major retrospective.

A contemporary of Martin Parr, Paul Reas is part of the pioneering generation of photographers who revealed and critiqued British class and culture in the 1980s and 90s. Strongly influenced by his working class upbringing in Bradford, Reas used humour and sharp observation to comment on a new corporate and commercial world epitomised by heritage industry sites, retail parks, and supermarkets.

I Can Help (1988), Reas’ seminal body of work, explores the consumer boom of the eighties with its American-style out-of-town shopping malls. Depicting employees and shoppers of the new middle class, Reas offers an acerbic re-visioning of Britishness to create a powerful portrayal of Thatcherite Britain.

Flogging a Dead Horse (1993) presents a nationwide survey of the emergence of the ‘heritage industry’: museums and theme parks such as Beamish Open Air Museum that offered a nostalgic and often commercialised version of the past in the wake of the collapse of heavy manufacturing and industry.

The Valleys Project (1985) depicts the impact of the decline of steel and coal industries in Wales and the emerging workforce of women in ‘New Technology’ industries, undertaking deadening work assembling electro-components in factories. Reas’ most recent work, From a Distance (2012/13) documents today’s property development boom and the changes facing the traditionally working class and culturally diverse neighbourhood of Elephant and Castle in South London.

“Day Dreaming About The Good Times?” also features rarely-seen early black and white photographs made in Wales and Bradford; never-before-exhibited work from Flogging a Dead Horse and I Can Help; as well as vintage material from Reas’ personal archive including contact sheets, magazine spreads of editorial work, and examples of his award-winning and subversive advertising campaigns for Nissan, British Telecom and Volkswagen.

Visitor Information

Paul Reas “Day Dreaming About The Good Times?”

22 March – 10 May 2014

Ffotogallery, Turner House, Plymouth Rd, Penarth, CF64 3DH

Preview: Friday 21 March, 18.00 – 20.00
Artist talk: Wednesday 2 April 18.30 – 20.00

Admission is free to all visitors

Opening Times: Tuesday-Saturday, 11am - 5pm

Tel: 029 2070 8870 Email: W:

An Impressions Gallery touring exhibition, curated by Anne McNeill.

All images © Paul Reas / courtesy Impressions Gallery