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How I witness Britain: image that specifies the two countries

Former Guardian picture editor Eamonn McCabes TV series Britain in Focus has been mapping its own history of photography in the UK. Here, Irvine Welsh, Sadiq Khan, Jeanette Winterson, Nadav Kander and others pick the fires that sum up Britishness for them

A stunning miner, Orgreave, 1984

Luke Wright, poet

This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee demonstrates striking miner( Striking? Hes perfectly exquisite !) George Geordie Brealey( claim) and policeman Paul Castle( far left) at Orgreave on 18 June 1984. What followed, known as the Battle of Orgreave, was one of the severest conflicts in recent British civil biography, as 6,000 police officer and 5,000 miners faced off at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.

Brealey was said to have form for joking and jester with police officers on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one boy, sarcastically incognito, facing an infinite militarised police force. Brealey is at once brave, good-humoured and anti-establishment a British hero.

I was two in 1984, so this event is beyond my living remembering, but it seems increasingly relevant to the discords of contemporary Britain. Orgreave observed a turning point in the 1984 -8 5 miners ten-strike, and for labour relations in the UK. Zero-hours contracts, the left-behind, the disagreements of Brexit they place back to a moment like this.

The Boy With the Flag, 1970 Picture: Vanley Burke

The Boy With the Flag, 1970

David Lammy, Labour MP

Vanley Burkes image transmits the promise of second-generation immigrants born in Britain after their parents had landed on our shorings on the Windrush in 1948. My mothers was already in the Windrush generation, so this photo has a particular keennes for me. Long before Linford Christie or Jessica Ennis acquired gold medals for Britain and wrapped themselves in the British pennant, these young men and women began to identify with the two countries that was their only home.

Of course, this was the opening up of a bittersweet date for ethnic minorities in Britain: Enoch Powell, unfriendly police sus principles, miscarrying colleges and the emerging quarrel of inner-city life for immigrant communities. But it also captures birth certificates of multicultural Britain and communicate a feeling of hope and opportunity. This generation of ethnic minorities would go on to shape significant myriad contributions to Britain, from the rebirth of the NHS to the transformation of the Premier League. Nothing would be quite the same again.

Didcot power station, 27 July 2014

Didcot power plant, Oxfordshire, UK, 27 July 2014. Photograph: ajsissues/ Alamy Stock Photo

Joan Bakewell, broadcaster

I adoration these refrigerating towers at Didcot in Oxfordshire[ which were razed in July 2014] the latter are thoughts of real glamour. Whenever I passed on the improve, I would put down my work to enjoy them. They had enormous sweeping curves and in all climates returned a different face to the world. We retain windmills and steam teaches, so why not these?

There is something poignant about the death of structures: industrial ones signal the move from one age of technology to another. Their demolition distinguishes the come of experience, of one way of looking and being into another that we cant yet imagine. The moment when they fall to the ground markers a moment in biography started for ever. No speculate beings gaze in feeling when that happens.

Soldiers from the Womens Royal Army Corps in their service vehicle, driving through Trafalgar Square during the course of its VE Day observances in London. Photo: RJ Salmon/ Getty Images

VE observances, 8 May 1945

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

This photograph captures the delight of one of the biggest moments of the 20 th century the victory over dictatorship in 1945. It too symbolises the enormous strides done for gender equality in world war two. Women participated previously all-male professions: without their conflict try, we might not have prevailed over nazism.

The second world war was Britain at its excellent. It was the peoples campaign, where our citizens pictured mettle and relinquish beyond our modern curiosities. It proved that territory intervention and a socialised economy can work.

Privilege and profiteering were seen humiliating. The common good emanated firstly. Beings of all years, hastens and nations united to represent Britain against the Nazis. We welcomed refugees and allied with subjugated Europeans. The need for a fairer, more equal society was the social consensus.

The wartime Common Wealth defendant was the equivalent of the anti-Tory partnership we need today: it joined progressives, radicals and independents. Well to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, it moved revolutionary policies favourite and acquired wartime byelections.

Social justice had mass entreaty in world war two. The parties asked, and later reached, public ownership of major industries and the creation of the NHS and social security. They won social justice in 1945. Why cant we acquire it is currently?

British politician Nigel Farage gratifies President Elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, NYC, on 12 November 2016.
Photograph: Wigmore/ Finn/ Splash News

Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, 12 November 2016

Irvine Welsh, author

This picture of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage says so much about our new age of politics: an American millionaires tax-dodging son and an English investment banker celebrate the realisation of their reveries. The American gets to run the world. The Englishman get nothing but the sad contentment of playing tribunal jester to the American, in this new world order he has undeniably facilitated is carrying out. The dispirited and defeated former aristocrats of labour in the post-industrial American and UK barrens, their unions smashed, their wages lowered, crushed by 30 years of neoliberalism, get two affluent followers posing outside a gold heave. And the potent one has a team scheming 24/7 about how to reduce them to further penury and serfdom. The Thatcher-Reagan era was the preeminence of the 1 %. This slide represents the official coronation of the brand-new toytown emperors and their hapless marionettes, and the rubber-stamping of medieval, authoritarian politics in a hi-tech macrocosm.

Miner at his evening snack, 1937. Picture: Bill Brandt

Northumbrian coalminer and his wife, 1937

Eamonn McCabe, photographer

In 1937, German-born Bill Brandt travelled to the north of England where he would be the first to incorporate modes from art and photojournalism. As a stranger, he delivered a disinterested, foreigners perspective, claiming that he wasnt making a political time, but his photos have become the defining portraits of the Great Depression.

Brandt likewise wanted to creating his highly stylised approaching to photograph steadfast descriptions of the people who lived and cultivated in these industrial parishes like this shot Brandts most celebrated image from his northern journeying taken in 1937, of a Northumbrian miner devouring his tea, watched over by his wife.

Although for me there is a sense that Brandt has carefully constituted this scene, steering the specific characteristics and formatting the determine, does this detract from the power of the portrait? Brandts northern occupation never constructed him money and was published only later. But what he had achieved with these scenes was an extraordinary coming together of forms to create a striking and colors eyesight of Britain never seen before.

Brandt never stopped pushing the borders of his art and he is rightly considered one of the most important photographers to have worked in Britain. He would also go on to work on a groundbreaking new publication that photographed every aspect of British life. On 1 October 1938, the Picture Post was launched, a weekly periodical filled with photographs on every page, the fact-finding mission testimony to make a visual preserve of British people at home, at work and at participate.

David Weir, Paralympic Games, 2012

London 2012 Paralympic Games. David Weir of GB celebrates acquiring the three men T54 800 m final . . Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

Melanie C, vocalist

This shot is incredible. David Weir with his logo wail is on the line in his succes constitute, limbs spread wide-eyed and his competitors blurred in the background. We have celebrated Olympic jocks for a very long time, but genuinely the people who are achieving stunning things against the report is our Paralympians, who for so long were overlooked.

When it came to people with physical disabilities, I used to feel ambiguous about the decorum, but the biggest thought that we gained from 2012 s Paralympics was the way it changed positions in general. It was a really special age and it shifted families perspectives for ever. Weir held titles. He won the marathon. He triumphed four ambers in 2012.

Britain has a honour for being a bit negative, a bit bleak. But that summertime we demo the world how to do it. Everyone pulled together and it was a positive time to be in London. This image, along with so many others, reminds me of a year in which I seemed very lucky to live in the capital. It was a wonderful time, and, for me, this image transmits so much better supremacy, strength, resolution everything that the Paralympics was. ( As told to Harriet Gibsone )

Battle of Cable Street, Aldgate, London, 5 October 1936. An anti-fascist army, some of them carrying weapons, run from a roadblock they have made near Aldgate. The police are accusing on the far side of the barricade, which has been reinforced with paving stones. Photo: Patrimony Portrait/ Getty Images

Battle of Cable Street, 5 October 1936

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London

More than 80 years ago in October 1936 millions of brave and gutsy men, women and children gathered to oppose autocracy in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street.

That day, Mosleys totalitarians were forced into a demeaning retreat something achieved only through the ability of people and communities coming together. A organization was make of Jewish East Enders, Irish dockworkers, trade unionists, Labour party members and many more coming together in solidarity to scorn autocracy and everything associated with it.

This was a historic turning point, a succes that had lasting repercussions because it been demonstrated that fascism “couldve been” balk through parishes merging something that should continue to induce us.

Last October, the 80 th anniversary of Cable Street, I was proud to join another bloc of legislators, the Jewish community, labor union, anti-racist organisations, Bangladeshi associations and many others , not only to honour and recollect the gallant people who fought against dictatorship in 1936, but to show our commitment and resolve to sustain that engage. To suggest: where reference is view events that are contentious, go against our British qualities and are just fundamentally wrong, we must call them out; well never give dictatorship, racism or racism reign. These are ethics that ring true in London, more than anywhere in the world.

Womens March, London, 21 January 2017

Womens March, London, 21 January 2017. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/ Getty Images

Kate Nash, singer

Whats so cool about this illustration is that you have an iconic British effigy alongside a letter on gender equality. There were a loads of signals at the womens march in London its become really popular to get innovative with them.

There has been a tendency within history in general for women to be small, to cross their legs and touch their hair. Even in the music industry, humankinds have tried to quieten me down and box me differently. Now wives want to express themselves and be a part of things. Its about coming together to stand up for effects we believe in, and being intersectional in our feminism. This placard has such a strong meaning its unapologetic, its vehement. Its not going to be tamed by anybody. Nobodys going to tell a lion to shut up theyd be feed!

It seems as if someone has left this posting there at the end of the rally. It is a piece of art it deters on telling a narration even when youve got on the Tube and gone home. ( As told to Leah Harper )

A Line Obligated by Walking, 1967 Image: Richard Long. All Privilege Reserved, DACS 2017

A Line Formed By Walking, 1967

Nadav Kander, photographer

I could really see having this photograph in my house and it meaning different things to me at different minutes in “peoples lives”. Its a draw thats so matured. Before you understand what it outlines, its such a nourishing, simple likenes. Then, when “youre reading” that this was a line that Richard Long made himself, by sauntering up and down, up and down theres something so symbolic and subtle about it.

I love photography in which the artist can be seen in the portrait. Long has preserved his own push on countries around the world and the acces he inhabits his borders with this photograph. That play of making art is beautiful to me; it always acquires me incredibly happy.

I first saw this image when I was a photographers assistant in the West End of London. I used to visit Adrian Ensor, the printer in Fitzrovia who used to engrave Richards work. For me, this image is like a Matisse drawing of a appearance, where the charcoal-grey hasnt been lifted from the paper and hitherto you feel as if you might know the girl imaged. Its that kind of delicacy and prowess that I love.

Sometimes, when an master occurs in their skill, I find it incredibly heavy-handed its so evident, like an interior design publication. But with Longs work is featherlight and nuanced. The being behind the epitome ever interests me as much as the picture itself and I like to see their fingerprint in their work. ( As told to Leah Harper )

David Cameron, June 2015

David Cameron at the European heads of state and governments summit at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels. The Financial Hour exploited this photograph following the end of Brexit. Image: Wiktor Dabkowski/ eyevine

Jeanette Winterson, columnist

This photograph though take place within 2015 was on the front extend of the Financial Times immediately after Brexit. Theres David Cameron, the legalised speculator, potting Britain on the roulette wheel, confident the projectile would rotate softly back to pitch-black. Instead, the financial austerity measures that drove the UK deeper and deeper into the blood-red made certain that the gamble itself would end on blood-red. Red alert. Red faces. The reptilian mentality of the Tory party satisfied they had been allowed to bet the country on a deluded dream of an island territory. And those inexpensive forgeries, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, stimulating to an outcome that would work in the service of their personal ambition.

That repelling nighttime, as the roulette wheel braked, the counting was in, and the UK was out of Europe. Cameron and George Osborne never believed it could happen. Arrogant luxury boys out of touch with the miseries their policies had functioned. No plan for what would does happen. Cameron resigned. I suppose he thought that was noble. He should have been forced to clean up his own mess. Not walk away to manufacture millions.

But he hadnt “losing ones” fund, or his home, or his future. He saved that for the little people. The people his government had been gambling with all along. Unexpectedly there was a chance for the little beings to revolve the rotation. No one “ve told them” that once again they could only lose.

The final escapade of Britain in Focus: A Photographic History is on BBC4 on Monday 20 March at 9pm. <a

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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