Leica exhibits ‘London Life’ by Colin O’Brien at Leica Store City gallery

Leica exhibits London Life by Colin O’Brien at Leica Store City gallery
Leica exhibits ‘London Life’ by Colin O’Brien at Leica Store City gallery

Leica Camera is hosting an exhibition of street photography by Colin O’Brien at its new gallery space above the Leica Store City at 18 The Royal Exchange. The photographs, which have been selected from O’Brien’s award-winning ‘London Life’ project, were taken over several decades on his Leica rangefinder cameras. The collection will be available to view at Leica Store City until the end of January 2016, and Colin will also be holding an illustrated lecture at the gallery on Thursday 3 December.

Colin O’Brien was born in 1940s Clerkenwell and started taking photographs at the age of eight. For most of his life, he has continued to live and work in the heart of London. His images reveal a lasting insight into the lives of ordinary people. Depicting life ‘as it used to be’, O’Brien recorded images of run-down buildings awaiting demolition, and children playing unsupervised in the street.

O’Brien’s photographs of working class life in London in the 50s and 60s are reminiscent of the early photojournalist approach published by magazines such as Picture Post. For O’Brien, the street becomes his stage and the passing scene a play in which we see people talking, dancing, miming and performing to an unseen audience. O’Brien’s camera in those early days was a Leica 111a with a 3.5 Elmar lens.

The photographs have resulted in numerous favourable articles and reviews in periodicals and newspapers such as the Times, Guardian, Independent, Telegraph, Plays and Players and The New Statesman. He also took the photograph used for the prize-winning cover of the first edition of the novel ‘Alfie’ by Bill Naughton.

The London Life exhibition is open for public viewing until 29 January 2016.

Exhibition venue: Leica Store City Gallery, 18 The Royal Exchange, London EC3V 3LP

Tel: 020 7283 0700

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10.00am – 6.00pm

Colin O’Brien illustrated lecture – Thursday 3 December, 6.30pm

Leica Store City, in collaboration with Spitalfields Life, will also be hosting an illustrated lecture by Colin O’Brien on Thursday 3 December at 6.30pm (duration approximately one hour).

Colin will talk through the photographs he shot on his Leica camera and the stories behind them. Beginning in 1948, these pictures offer a compelling photographic testimony of post-war Clerkenwell. Colin still owns the beloved Leica IIIa that he used for this series, and will be bringing it along with him.

Attendees at the event will receive a copy of Colin’s famous Clerkenwell Car Crash poster. There will also be the opportunity to purchase a signed copy of the publication, London Life.

To register for this event, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/london-life-with-leica-store-city-tickets-19637990759

About Colin O’Brien

Colin O’Brien’s photographs have recorded the experiences and sights of urban life in all its diversity.  Exhibitions in the early part of this decade demonstrate his eye for irony, combined with his obvious professional competence with the camera and in the darkroom. The published photographs of mainly urban documentary scenes have resulted in a number of reviews and critical articles recognising his importance. Joanna Pitman in the Times said she was “charmed by tender views of daily life” and went on to say, “It is not often that one finds a photographer whose work spans over 50 years, who possesses eloquence, grace, drama and visual wit, and has a remarkable eye for the world around him.”

O’Brien was at one time closely connected with the ‘Fringe’ theatre circuit in London during the 1970s and for many years photographed the productions at the Kings Head Theatre club in Islington. His work has been exhibited at the Battersea Arts Centre, the Royal Festival Hall, Morley College Gallery, the Eckersley Gallery at the London College of Printing, the Galley at Pentagram Design, the Charterhouse Gallery Smithfield, the University of Kent, Ichthus Gallery Rotterdam, Leo Burnett Gallery Stockholm and a fifty year retrospective at the Gallery at OXO in 2004 and again in 2007 which was received with much critical acclaim. O’Brien’s work was included in the highly successful London Street Photography exhibition held at the Museum of London in 2010.

About Leica Camera AG

Leica Camera AG is an international manufacturer of premium cameras and sport optics products. The company is headquartered in Wetzlar, Germany, with a second production site in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal. Leica Camera AG operates branch offices in the UK, France, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, South Korea, Italy, Australia and the USA. New and innovative products have been the driving force behind the company’s positive development in recent years.

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