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How I meet Britain: photograph that specifies the country

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

A stunning miner, Orgreave, 1984

Luke Wright, poet

This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee establishes striking miner( Impressing? Hes utterly ravishing !) George Geordie Brealey( right) and policeman Paul Castle( far left) at Orgreave on 18 June 1984. What followed, known as the Battle of Orgreave, was one of the most violent conflicts in recent British civil record, as 6,000 police officers and 5,000 miners faced off at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.

Brealey was said to have form for joking and clowning with police officer on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one husband, 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 recall, but it seems increasingly relevant to the divides of contemporary Britain. Orgreave commemorated a important turning point in the 1984 -8 5 miners ten-strike, and for labour relations in the UK. Zero-hours contracts, the left-behind, the separations of Brexit they time back to a moment like this.

The Boy With the Flag, 1970 Image: Vanley Burke

The Boy With the Flag, 1970

David Lammy, Labour MP

Vanley Burkes image gives the promise of second-generation immigrants born in Britain after their parents had property on our shorings on the Windrush in 1948. My mothers was already in the Windrush generation, so this photo has a particular poignancy for me. Long before Linford Christie or Jessica Ennis triumphed gold medals for Britain and wrapped themselves in the British flag, these young men and women began to identify with the country that was their alone home.

Of course, this was the beginning of a bittersweet point for ethnic minorities in Britain: Enoch Powell, unfriendly police sus statutes, neglecting colleges and the rising discord of inner-city life for immigrant communities. But it also captivates birth certificates of multicultural Britain and conveys a spirit of hope and possibility. This generation of ethnic minorities would go on to establish 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 adored these cooling towers at Didcot in Oxfordshire[ which were swallowed in July 2014] the latter are events of real glamour. Whenever I passed on the study, I would put down my work to experience them. They had enormous sweeping curves and in all conditions turned a different face to the world. We retain windmills and steam civilizes, so why not these?

There is something poignant about the deaths among houses: industrial ones signal the move from one period of technology to another. Their devastation recognizes the transfer of era, of one way of looking and being into another that we cant yet imagine. The time when they fall to the ground differentiates a moment in record disappeared for ever. No think parties gaze in bewilderment when that happens.

Soldiers from the Womens Royal Army Corps in their services vehicle, driving through Trafalgar Square during the VE Day revelries in London. Picture: RJ Salmon/ Getty Images

VE revelries, 8 May 1945

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

This photograph captures the euphorium of one of the most important minutes of the 20 th century the succes over dictatorship in 1945. It likewise symbolises the huge strides constituted of equality between men and women during the second world war. Maidens entered previously all-male occupations: without their battle try, we might not have prevailed over nazism.

The second world war was Britain at its better. It was the peoples of the territories war, where ordinary citizens evidenced spirit and relinquish beyond our modern imageries. It have also shown that country involvement and a socialised economy can work.

Privilege and profiteering were regarded shocking. The common good came firstly. Beings of all years, hastens and commonwealths joined to represent Britain against the Nazis. We welcomed refugees and allied with subjugated Europeans. The would be required for a fairer, more equal culture was the social consensus.

The wartime Common Wealth defendant was the equivalent of the anti-Tory partnership we need today: it united socialists, liberals and independents. Well to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, it constituted progressive policies favourite and prevailed wartime byelections.

Social justice had mass appeal in the second world war. The people required, and later achieved, public ownership of major industries and the creation of the NHS and social security. They prevailed social right in 1945. Why cant we win it now?

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, writer

This picture of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage says so much about our new era of politics: an American millionaires tax-dodging son and an English investment banker celebrate the realisation of their dreamings. The American gets to run the world. The Englishman get nothing but the pathetic enjoyment of playing court fool to the American, in this new world order he has undeniably facilitated bring about. The dispirited and overcome former aristocrats of labour in the post-industrial American and UK barrens, their unions smashed, their wages lowered, subdued by 30 years of neoliberalism, get two prosperous guys posing outside a golden hoist. And the powerful one has a team scheming 24/7 about how to reduce them to further penury and serfdom. The Thatcher-Reagan era was the dominance of the 1 %. This drawing represents the official coronation of the new toytown rulers and their hapless puppets, and the rubber-stamping of medieval, dictatorial politics in a hi-tech world.

Miner at his evening meal, 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 integrate forms from art and photojournalism. As a foreigner, he delivered a dispassionate, outsiders perspective, claiming that he wasnt making a political time, but his word-paintings have become the defining portraits of the Great Depression.

Brandt too wanted to making his highly stylised approach to photograph sturdy descriptions of the people who lived and wreaked in these industrial parishes like this shot Brandts most celebrated image from his northern jaunt take place within 1937, of a Northumbrian miner devouring his tea, watched over by his wife.

Although for me there is a sense that Brandt has carefully posed this drawing, aiming the specific characteristics and formatting the laid, does this detract from the superpower of the image? Brandts northern wreak never realized him coin and was published only later. But what he had achieved with these paints was an unprecedented coming together of styles to create a stark and vivid imagination of Britain ever seen before.

Brandt never stopped pushing the border 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 all aspects of British life. On 1 October 1938, the Picture Post was propelled, a weekly periodical filled with photo on every sheet, the fact-finding mission explanation to make a visual register of British people at home, at work and at participate.

David Weir, Paralympic Games, 2012

London 2012 Paralympic Games. David Weir of GB celebrates triumphing the mens T54 800 m final . . Picture: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

Melanie C, vocalist

This shot is incredible. David Weir with his mark moan is on the trail in his victory constitute, arms spread wide-cut and his opponents blurred in the background. We have celebrated Olympic jocks for a very long time, but truly the people who are achieving extraordinary occasions against the odds are our Paralympians, who for so long were overlooked.

When it came to people with disabilities, I used to feel ambiguous about the decorum, but the biggest thing that we gained from 2012 s Paralympics was the way it changed outlooks in general. It was a really special hour and it altered folks views for ever. Weir retained titles. He won the marathon. He triumphed four goldens 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 felt very lucky to live in the capital city. It was a wonderful day, and, for me, this image shows so much better dominance, forte, resolution all that is the Paralympics was. ( As told to Harriet Gibsone )

Battle of Cable Street, Aldgate, London, 5 October 1936. An anti-fascist mob, some of them carrying missiles, run from a barricade they have erected near Aldgate. The police are billing on the far side of the barricade, which has been reinforced with paving stones. Picture: Heritage 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 daring males, women and children gathered to oppose dictatorship in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street.

That day, Mosleys fascists were forced into a humiliating retreat something achieved only through the dominance of people and communities coming together. A alignment was make of Jewish East Enders, Irish dockworkers, trade unionists, Labour party members and many more coming together in solidarity to rebuff dictatorship and everything associated with it.

This was a historic turning point, a win that had lasting repercussions because it showed that autocracy could be balk through communities connecting something that should continue to inspire us.

Last October, the 80 th commemoration of Cable Street, I was proud to join another organization of politicians, the Jewish community , trade unions, anti-racist organisations, Bangladeshi associations and many others , is not merely to honour and recollect the defy people who fought against fascism in 1936, but to show our commitment and resolve to persist that oppose. To say: when we look events the hell is contentious, go against our British costs and are just profoundly incorrect, we must call them out; well never make dictatorship, intolerance or racism predominate. These are qualities that ring true in London, more than anywhere in countries around the world.

Womens March, London, 21 January 2017

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

Kate Nash, vocalist

Whats so cool about this video is that you have an iconic British statue alongside a meaning on gender equality. There were a quantities of signs at the status of women march in London its become really popular to get artistic with them.

There has been a bent within history in general for women to be small, to cross their legs and touch their hair. Even in the music manufacture, servicemen have tried to quieten me down and package me differently. Now maidens want to express themselves and be a part of things. Its about grouped together to stand up for justification we believe in, and being intersectional in our feminism. This sign has such a strong word its unapologetic, its relentles. Its not going to be tamed by anybody. Nobodys going to tell a lion to shut up theyd be gobbled!

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

A Line Shaped by Walking, 1967 Photo: Richard Long. All Right Reserved, DACS 2017

A Line Cleared By Walking, 1967

Nadav Kander, photographer

I has actually suppose having this photo in my house and it making different things to me at different instants in my life. Its a image thats so mature. Before you understand what it images, its such a nourish, simple-minded likenes. Then, when you read that this was a line that Richard Long established himself, by sauntering up and down, up and down theres something so metaphorical and subtle about it.

I love photography in which the creator can be seen in the epitome. Long has recorded his own pres on the planet and the way he colonizes his surrounds with this photograph. That behave of making art is beautiful to me; it always reaches me incredibly happy.

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

Sometimes, when an master intervenes in their prowes, I find it improbably heavy-handed its so evident, like an interior design periodical. But with Longs work is featherlight and nuanced. The person behind the epitome always 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 the heads of state and government and governments elevation at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels. The Financial Experience expended this photo immediately after Brexit. Photograph: Wiktor Dabkowski/ eyevine

Jeanette Winterson, scribe

This photograph though take place within 2015 was on the front spread of the Financial Times immediately after Brexit. Theres David Cameron, the legalised gambler, betting Britain on the roulette wheel, confident the ball would spin calmly back to black. Instead, the economic austerity measures that drove the UK deeper and deeper into the red-faced made certain that the gamble itself would end on blood-red. Red alert. Red faces. The reptilian brain of the Tory party satisfied they had been allowed to bet the country on a deluded dream of an island territory. And those inexpensive hoaxes, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, thrilling to an outcome that would work in the services offered of their personal ambition.

That sickening nighttime, as the roulette wheel retarded, the counting was in, and the UK was out of Europe. Cameron and George Osborne never believed it could happen. Arrogant classy boys out of touch with the miseries their policies had cultivated. No plan for what would happen next. Cameron vacated. I theorize he thought that was noble. He should have been forced to clean up his own mess. Not hanging in there to manufacture millions.

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

The final episode 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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