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Markéta Luskačová: By the Sea

4 April - 21 June 2020

Photographs by Markéta Luskačová, taken on the North East coast of England in the late 1970s will feature at Kestle Barton this spring. This touring exhibition of black and white photographs, on loan from the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol, is a fascinating exploration of a particular sea-side community, and the qualities that inform our experience and understanding of identity. Bringing these images to the Southwest sea-side of Cornwall offers a further opportunity for contemplation, contrast and enjoyment of these compelling images.

Czech-born Luskačová has lived in the UK since 1975 and first went to North East England in 1976 when visiting photographer Chris Killip, who at that time lived there. She fell in love with Whitley Bay, and with the people there who, in spite of the harsh weather, enjoyed their time at the seaside. When Amber, a film and photography collective, invited her in 1978 to photograph the North East of England alongside Martine Franck, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Paul Caponigro, she was drawn back to photograph the seaside.

“I was very touched by it all: the families with children, old women in their best hats, elderly couples with grandchildren, teenagers courting shyly or boisterously, the ponies and donkeys walking patiently to and fro on the beach. The dogs and children were everywhere, dogs enjoying themselves as much as the children did. The fairground and the omnipresent tents, fortresses against the wind and rain, the seaside cafes selling sandwiches, apple pies, custard pies, ice creams and teas, of course. But they also sold boiling water to women who brought with them from their homes their teapots and teabags, because to buy tea for the whole family would be too expensive.”

Although well known in photographic circles, Luskačová’s work in recent years has lacked the exposure of some of her contemporaries. This exhibition was first shown last September (2019) at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol, alongside a new book published by RRB Books. Both the book and the exhibition aimed to contribute to a recent resurgence of interest in Luskačová’s work and to introduce it to new audiences.

The book is available online and copies will be on display at Kestle Barton during the exhibition.

Image (left):  © Markéta Luskačová – Whitley Bay, 1978

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