The 1930 Sun-bathing Riot

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The London Sunbathing Club, 1920

Campaigns for a return-to-nature, for health & fitness and for social nudity or naturism arose in Northern Europe in the later part of the 19thC and were gradually adopted by other European countries after the First World War.

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Semi-clad in Croydon…

The Hyde Park Lido built in 1930 was a concrete expression of the outcome of the movements. It gave people somewhere to sunbathe legally, as it was illegal to strip to sunbathe unless on specially designated beaches.

In North London, from 1921, people gathered at the Welsh Harp to bathe and expose their bodies to the sun.

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‘The Hill’ Hampstead

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In the garden of a mansion (Neo-Georgian with Queen Anne revival wings) once called ‘The Hill’ adjacent to a long, shallow pond and on the site of a former tennis court is a high wall and shelter of soft sandstone covered with numerous examples of incised graffiti, names and dates, faces, hearts and jagged lines connecting the mundane and exotic: Anthony the Jock, Baz, Dave, D, Dom, Grata, Jax, Mackie, Melalee, Mini, Milner, Monkey, Patricia, Raffia, Rima, Sam, Tim, Tracey, Veneta, Venti, Wallace, Zona with the more modest D26, J.F., H.90, FxB=, M+C2014, ME. Overwritten and interconnected they speak to ‘Lifebuoy’, ‘Lux’, ‘Vim’, ‘Port Sunlight’ Sir William Lever/1st Viscount Leverhulme’s early 20thC legacy garden as scratched love tokens.

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Markers of time & space…

A merging of time and place, two vintage postcards of Matlock Bath combined…

“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”
Joan Didion

Postcards – small paper markers – of time and space. Postcards, like snapshot, are both workaday and precious, not in monetary terms, nor perhaps as a result of their unpublished intent (to tell those not here that the weather’s fine and the foods awful etc.). It’s the story behind the image that makes it a precious container for memories of our place, our holiday world, our life. Postcards, like snapshots, have an uncanny potential to freeze-frame our private world of memories.

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