Fay Godwin

Fay Godwin

October 2017 – March 2018

Kindly on loan from the British Council collection, this exhibition of Fay Godwin’s work beautifully illustrated Godwin’s love of walking — a passion which inspired her to pursue landscape photography. These works show her photographing isolated and remote areas of the British landscape. They capture Derwent Water in the Lake District, the White Cliffs of Dover and the coast of North Cornwall.

Born in Berlin, Germany, to a British diplomat and an American artist, Fay Godwin spent her childhood abroad. In 1966, she became interested in photography through capturing her young children. She was largely self-taught, mastering the techniques of developing and printing her own photographs.

In 1978, Godwin was the recipient of a major award from Arts Council of Great Britain to continue her landscape work throughout the British Isles. In 1984, a collection of Godwin’s work, including these works, began a world tour by the British Council. The following year, a major exhibition of her work Land was held at the Serpentine Gallery, London. Between 1987 and 1990, Godwin was President of the Ramblers’ Association, UK. In 2001, a major retrospective of her work was held at the Barbican Centre in London. In 2008, The British Library acquired Godwin’s archive which included the entire contents of her studio: negatives, contact sheets, exhibition prints (around 11,000 prints in total) and correspondence with some of her sitters including Ted Hughes and Doris Lessing.

In conjunction with her landscape photography, Fay Godwin produced an extensive series of portraits of literary figures including Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, Doris Lessing and Tom Stoppard. In 1979, she collaborated with Poet Laureate Ted Hughes on Remains of Elmet. The book is a collection of poems by Ted Hughes with photographs by Fay Godwin. The poems and corresponding photographs capture the landscape and people of the Calder valley, west of Halifax in Yorkshire, the place of Hughes’s birth and early childhood.

Fay Godwin’s work is held in many public collections including Arts Council of Great Britain; The British Library, London; National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; National Portrait Gallery, London; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

All the works on display are kindly on loan from the British Council Collection. Since 1938, the British Council has been collecting works of art, craft and design to promote abroad the achievements of the best British artists, craft practitioners and designers. Recent acquisitions include works by Phyllida Barlow and Grayson Perry. The Collection has no permanent gallery and has been referred to as a ‘Museum Without Walls’. The British Council is also responsible for the British presentation at the Venice Biennale. The British Pavilion has showcased works by artists including Anish Kapoor, Henry Moore, Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin.