Roger Mayne

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Roger Mayne (5 May 1929 – 7 June 2014) was an English photographer, most famous for his documentation of the children of Southam Street, London.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Born in Cambridge, Mayne studied Chemistry at Balliol College, Oxford University. Here he became interested in photographic processing, and met Hugo van Wadenoyen, a key figure in British photography's break with pictorialism. On graduating in 1951 Mayne contributed pictures to Picture Post, and was an occasional film stills photographer. In the early 1950s he made photographic portraits of many residents in the artist's-colony town of St. Ives, Cornwall. He operated very much in an aesthetic vacuum, struggling to find any coherent tradition of British photography to follow. In 1956 he had a one-man show of his portraits at the ICA (UK), and George Eastman House (US). By 1957 he was established as a freelance photographer for London magazines and book-jacket designers.

With some financial and limited curatorial security established, he began to look for a significant personal project. He found it in the street life of Southam Street in Notting Dale (now often considered part of Notting Hill), which he photographed between 1956 and 1961. The novelist Colin MacInnes asked Mayne to contribute the cover shot for Absolute Beginners (1959), which is set in the area around Southam Street. The Southam Street collection is of national importance, and is now held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Most of Southam Street was demolished in 1969 to make way for Trellick Tower; a small section still exists. Mayne's Southam Street work had a major retrospective exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1986; and was brought to a new audience in the 1990s, through being extensively used for concert backdrops, record sleeves and press-adverts by the singer Morrissey.[2]

In the early 1960s Mayne moved into colour photography, photographing Greece and Spain, artists and their studios, and then landscapes, and publishing work in the mid and late 1960s in the new Sunday Times and Observer colour magazines.

In 1962, Mayne married the playwright Ann Jellicoe. They moved to Lyme Regis in Dorset in 1975. A major exhibition of his portraits was held at the National Portrait Gallery in 2004. He was represented in an important exhibition at Tate, Liverpool in 2006. His work continues to be represented in various venues. Mayne's work is also seen in the film version of Absolute Beginners. An exhibition of his work was shown at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, from 26 January-7 April 2013.[3] In early 2017 his photos are being exhibited in The Photographers Gallery in London.


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Photographs from London, ICA, London, 1956.[4]
  • Daughter and Sun, Half Moon Gallery, London, 1972.[5]
  • Roger Mayne photographs 1964–73, The Photographers' Gallery, London, 1974.
  • Roger Mayne: landscape photographs, Newlyn Gallery, Penzance, 1980.[5]
  • Roger Mayne: street photographs 1956–61, South Bank Centre, London, 1987.
  • Roger Mayne, Gitterman Gallery, New York, 2004.[6]
  • Seizing an Instant, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2004.[7]
  • Roger Mayne, Gitterman Gallery, New York, 2007.[6]
  • Roger Mayne at 80: A celebratory exhibition of photographs, Bernard Quaritch, London, 2009.[8]

Group exhibitions[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Francis Newton (i.e. Eric Hobsbawm). The Jazz Scene. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1959. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1960. Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1961. New York: Da Capo, 1975. With 12 photographs by Mayne.[9]
  • Roger Mayne, "Portrait of Southam Street". In Theo Crosby, ed. Uppercase 5. London: Whitefriars, 1961. With 57 photographs by Mayne.[10]
  • Hugh J. Klare. Anatomy of Prison. Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1962. With 9 photographs by Mayne.
  • Simon Clements, et al. Reflections: An English Course for Students Aged 14–18. London: Oxford University Press, 1963. With 12 photographs by Mayne.
  • Carl-Olof Lång. Engelska bilder – mest om teater: Handbok till Radioteaterns huvudserie 1966/67. Stockholm: Sveriges Radio Vorlag, 1966. With 26 photographs by Mayne. (Swedish)
  • Simon Clements, et al. Things Being Various. London: Oxford University Press, 1967. With 81 photographs by Mayne.
  • Ann Jellicoe and Roger Mayne. Shell Guide to Devon. London: Faber & Faber, 1975. (On the cover: Devon: A Shell Guide.) With 163 photographs by Mayne.
  • Bruce Watken. Shell Guide to Surrey. London: Faber & Faber, 1977. ISBN 0-571-09609-3. With 17 photographs by Mayne.
  • UNESCO. Le Monde me doit l'avenir. 1979. (French) With 13 photographs by Mayne.
  • Roger Mayne. The Street Photographs of Roger Mayne. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1986. ISBN 1-85177-002-X. With text by Mark Haworth-Booth. London: Zelda Cheatle Press, 1993.
  • Martin Harrison. Young Meteors: British Photojournalism, 1957–1965. London: Cape, 1998.
  • Ten out of ten: Cecil Beaton, Bill Brandt, Barry Lategan, Don McCullin, Roger Mayne, Norman Parkinson, Rankin, Lord Snowdon, John Swannell, Albert Watson. Göttingen: Steidl, 2001. ISBN 3-88243-440-6. With work by Cecil Beaton, Bill Brandt, Barry Lategan, Don McCullin, Norman Parkinson, Rankin, Lord Snowdon, John Swannell and Albert Watson.
  • Roger Mayne. Photographs. London: Jonathan Cape, 2001. ISBN 0-224-06054-6.
  • Tanya Barson, et al. Making history: Art and documentary in Britain from 1929 to now. London: Tate Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-85437-682-9.


  1. ^ Amanda Hopkinson. "Roger Mayne obituary | Art and design". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Roger Mayne", Accessed 23 February 2010.
  3. ^ Accessed 9 September 2012
  4. ^ Mark Howarth-Booth, "Roger Mayne's Southam Street", The Street Photographs of Roger Mayne (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1986), 69.
  5. ^ a b List of solo exhibitions, The Street Photographs of Roger Mayne (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1986), 80.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Roger Mayne: Exhibitions". Accessed 24 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Seizing an Instant: Photographs by Roger Mayne", National Portrait Gallery. Accessed 23 February 2010.
  8. ^ Diane Smyth, "The Mayne Event", British Journal of Photography, 10 June 2009. Exhibition notice, Quaritch. Both accessed 23 February 2010.
  9. ^ Here and (unless otherwise noted) for other books listed below and published before 1986, the number of photographs by Mayne is as stated in the list "Bookjackets and Books", The Street Photographs of Roger Mayne (London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1986), 81–83. The latter list also describes many items not listed here.
  10. ^ Howarth-Booth, "Roger Mayne's Southam Street", 76

External links[edit]