Pierdom: Photographs of Britain's piers by Simon Roberts on view at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

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Pierdom: Photographs of Britain's piers by Simon Roberts on view at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Brighton West Pier, East Sussex, April 2011 © Simon Roberts, courtesy Flowers Gallery.

BRIGHTON.- 40 photographs from Pierdom, Simon Roberts’ three-year quest to document all of Britain’s remaining pleasure piers, are being exhibited together for the first time at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

For two centuries Britain’s piers have traced our relationship with the seaside, and our economic and social history. Internationally renowned photographer Simon Roberts, who lives in Brighton, has undertaken a three-year quest to document all of Britain’s remaining pleasure piers, using a large format 4 x 5” field camera.

The series has been made into an acclaimed photobook, Pierdom, and enjoyed success in London commercial gallery, Flowers. Several of the pier photographs have been exhibited in their respective hometowns but this is the first time they have been brought together in one public exhibition.

Roberts said: “I don’t think anything sums up British national identity more powerfully than the pleasure pier. A century ago our coastline had over a hundred, offering people a tantalising taste of the sea without having to get wet, but today fewer than half of them are still standing.

“With Pierdom I wanted to celebrate the personality, architecture and history of each remaining structure – as well as some of the spaces where the piers can no longer be seen. I also wanted to investigate the connections between the landscapes and the communities that live and play against the backdrop of these pleasure piers.

“I’m delighted that the whole exhibition of prints will be displayed together for the first time in my home town of Brighton, arguably the home of the pleasure pier!”

The exhibition includes striking, evocative images of piers in Hastings, Southsea (Portsmouth), Paignton, Clevedon, Eastbourne (captured before last year’s fire), Bangor and Cleethorpes, as well as Brighton’s own piers.

Film material exploring the photographer’s working process and the history of the Brighton piers is also being displayed, together with items from the museum’s local history archive and personal stories of seaside memories. Members of the public are being encouraged to leave their own ‘pier stories’, and the Museum & Art Gallery’s explainers also are on hand to share interesting objects and stories relating to Brighton & Hove’s contrasting piers.

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Pierdom: Photographs of Britain's piers by Simon Roberts on view at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

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