THE English at leisure have always enjoyed the great outdoors, and Simon Roberts, in his major exhibition, We English, at the National Media Museum captures the activities and the locations in splendid fashion in his large colour prints.
From Ladies’ Day at Aintree Racecourse to sandcastle buildings on Blackpool beach, he brings us some very human scenes of great variety.
We find hang gliders hovering around like kites above the South Downs Way, fearless competitors in the Mad Maldon Mud Race at the River Blackwater, Essex (obviously not for the faint-hearted).
There are no golfers, however, on the Tanbridge Golf Course, Oxted, Surrey. It’s covered in snow and there’s just the odd dog-walker.
There are swimmers at the Cotswold Water Park, sunbathers at Keynes Country Park Beach, Gloucestershire, figures looking like tiny dots on the vast expanse of Saunton Sands, Devon – Simon Roberts used a large format camera to achieve such detail.
This has led to such pictures as his superb shot of Lingmell Fell, in the Lake District, with the huge bulk of the mountain dwarfing walkers on the footpath below.
More adventurous hikers are seen enjoying their tea and sandwiches after the exhausting climb to the summit of Scafell Pike.
Born in London, Simon spent many holidays walking in the Lake District and visiting family members on the South Coast.
Other walkers are seen at the rocks at Stanage Edge, Hathersage, and crossing the stepping stones at Bolton Abbey.
A veritable forest of birds rises in the air at Maidstone Young Bird National Pigeon Race.
Those who like pictures of the old days will enjoy a collection of vintage photographs – still showing the English at leisure – from the museum’s permanent collection.
These date back as far as 1859 and include some 1930s shots from he Daily Herald archive.
The exhibition runs till September 5 and the museum opens six days (closed Mondays).
r Video games have become a multi-billion pound industry, but what effect do they have on people who spend hours and hours with them, away from the realities of life?
This is the question posed by Robbie Cooper in his exhibition Immersion in Gallery 2 of the museum.
There are pictures of people watching and taking part in the games, characters from City of Heroes, Second Life, City of Villains.
A telling quote comes from Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, who says: “New technology is nudging the book aside and catapulting images to the centre of the culture.
“We are becoming people of the screen.”
On the other hand: “Games are dramatic models of our psychological lives, providing release of particular tensions,” says Marshall McLuhan, philosopher and media theorist.
This exhibition also runs till September 5.