In Toby Litt’s debut novel “Beatniks” the characters are driving from Bedford to Brighton when one of them exclaims: “England is such a small island. You drive to the edge, then all you can do is stop. There is nowhere else to go… I want to keep going. I never want to stop. North, south, east, west – I don’t care. Just get me off this island! Take me away! Take me to America!”
It is hard to image a British road novel or movie in the tradition of our cousins on the other side of the Atlantic, but Britain has its own traditional roadside culture, tied in to place and environment that can be every bit as iconic as Route 66 or a bedraggled Jack Kerouac thumbing a lift.
Over the past four years photographer Sam Mellish has been exploring the UK’s trunk roads to “bring home a real taste of roadside Britain”, learning much about his homeland along the way. During his travels he has developed a love of the British open road, whilst drinking many cups of tea, and the results of these journeys have been collected together in a new book of photography entitled Roadside Britain.
The book is introduced by renowned photography critic Max Houghton, has a preface by celebrated British social and cultural historian and journalist Joe Moran, and is a celebration of the people and places of Roadside Britain, many of whom find their livelihoods threatened. The images within the pages of the book will strike a chord with anyone who has driven along the A and B roads of the United Kingdom.
To celebrate the launch of the book there is an accompanying exhibition that is – appropriately enough – touring the country as you read this. The remaining dates are as follows:
10th – 31st July – theprintspace – London
7th – 31st Aug – Bank Street Arts – Sheffield
14th Aug – 10th Sept – Exeter Phoenix – Exeter
16th – 21st Oct – Brighton Phoenix – Brighton
More about the photographer:
Based in the East of England, Sam Mellish is an established photojournalist. Specialising in a range of photographic styles, his work predominantly focuses on documentary, editorial and commercial photography. Graduating with a Masters of Arts from University Of Westminster, in 2009 Sam received Lottery funding through the Arts Council of England. In 2010 Sam published his debut book titled ‘On The Road: London to Lands End’. It’s Sam’s first major body of work dedicated to a transient trade, rich in diverse cultures and continues to build on this work.