Oxford-based Paddy Summerfield trained at Guildford School of Art in the Photography and the Film departments. Photographs he took in 1967, when still a first year student, were published in Album,and spreads in Creative Camera received encouraging recognition. Summerfield first exhibited in London in the late 1960's, and his work has been shown at many galleries, including the ICA, The Barbican, The Serpentine Gallery, and The Photographers' Gallery. In 2014, Dewi Lewis published Summerfield's book "Mother And Father."This was selected by Sean O'Hagan of the Observer as one of the Top Ten Photobooks of 2014, and by Kassel Photobooks as one of their Top Thirty 2014-2015.
We are delighted that Paddy's Photo Postcards are taken from arguably his most celebrated series The Oxford Pictures. Paddy photographed the students of Oxford University in 1968-78. He says that 'often, I sensed a loneliness in the students. I photographed. We were all lonely together.”. Many of the subjects are wistfully reading, walking, rowing, sunbathing alone on the grounds of this historic institution. Regarded as the brightest students in the world, the pressure of the institution can be felt in these photographs through the use of isolating composition, and you very rarely see their faces directly.
Paddy has also said that 'It was very much a young man’s vision: anxiety, desire and sexual guilt run right through it, maybe because of my strict upbringing with Sunday school lessons and Christian teaching.'. One of the most famous from this series depicts a girl with unshaven armpits reading and christian sex education book. Paddy's own sense of soul searching as a photographer is mirrored by his student subjects, explaining why this series does more than document, it is a product of what it is documenting.
The black and white 35mm film he used to shoot it with creates a romantic feel reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh books and Sylvia Plath interpretations of this prestigious university life. The four postcards he has donated are some of the best in the series and we are very pleased to be exhibiting them in October.
About the writer
Rosa Torr has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from University College Dublin, though she herself is from London. Her place of interest is political theory and in particular Gender Studies. Rosa has written for numerous online publications and the University Observer. She is also a theatre maker and is currently co-artistic director of BUMP&GRIND Theatre Company. The show she co-wrote BUMP will be on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.