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How I encounter Britain: picture that define the country

Former Guardian picture editor Eamonn McCabes TV series Britain in Focus has been plotting 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 astonishing miner, Orgreave, 1984

Luke Wright, poet

This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee sees impressing miner( Impressing? Hes perfectly magnificent !) 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 most violent strifes in recent British civil record, 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 clowning with police officers on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one gentleman, 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 remembrance, but it seems increasingly relevant to the divisions 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 discords of Brexit they moment 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 conveys the promise of second-generation immigrants born in Britain after their parents had landed on our beaches on the Windrush in 1948. My mothers were part of the Windrush generation, so this photo has a particular keennes for me. Long before Linford Christie or Jessica Ennis won 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 only home.

Of course, this was the opening up of a bittersweet point for ethnic minorities in Britain: Enoch Powell, hostile police sus rules, miscarrying schools and the rising discord of inner-city life for immigrant communities. But the committee is also captures birth certificates of multicultural Britain and show a tone of hope and opportunity. This generation of ethnic minorities would go on to reach 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 station, Oxfordshire, UK, 27 July 2014. Photograph: ajsissues/ Alamy Stock Photo

Joan Bakewell, broadcaster

I desired these cooling towers at Didcot in Oxfordshire[ which were razed in July 2014] they were things of real attractivenes. Whenever I passed on the instruct, I would put down my journal to experience them. They had enormous sweeping curves and in all climates turned a different face to the world. We save windmills and steam instructs, so why not these?

There is something poignant about the death of buildings: industrial ones signal the move from one epoch of technology to another. Their devastation differentiates the enact of hour, of one way of looking and being into another that we cant yet imagine. The instant when they fall to the soil observes a moment in biography moved for ever. No wonder beings gaze in amazement when that happens.

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

VE revels, 8 May 1945

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

This photograph captivates the exultation of one of the most important minutes of the 20 th century the succes over fascism in 1945. It also symbolises the enormous paces realized for gender equality in the second world war. Girls recruited previously all-male positions: without their conflict try, we might not have triumphed over nazism.

The second world war was Britain at its best. It was the peoples of the territories battle, where “citizens ” presented heroism and sacrifice beyond our modern resources. It proved that regime intervention and a socialised economy can work.

Privilege and profiteering were deemed disgraceful. The common good came first. People of all grades, races and societies joined to protect Britain against the Nazis. We welcomed refugees and allied with subjugated Europeans. The need for a fairer, more equal civilization was the social consensus.

The wartime Common Wealth party was the equivalent of the anti-Tory alliance we need today: it united progressives, radicals and independents. Well to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, it formed radical programmes popular and won wartime byelections.

Social justice had mass appeal during the second world war. The beings challenged, and later attained, public ownership of major industries and the creation of the NHS and social security. They acquired social right in 1945. Why cant we prevail it is now time?

British politician Nigel Farage congregates 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 brand-new era of politics: an American millionaires tax-dodging son and an English investment banker celebrate the realisation of their fantasies. The American gets to run the world. The Englishman get nothing but the sad happiness of playing court fool to the American, in this new world order he has undeniably helped bring about. The dispirited and defeated former aristocrats of labour in the post-industrial American and UK wastelands, their unions smashed, their wages lowered, humiliated by 30 years of neoliberalism, get two prosperous humankinds posing outside a gold hoist. And the strong one has a crew scheming 24/7 about how to reduce them to further penury and serfdom. The Thatcher-Reagan era was the domination of the 1 %. This word-painting represents the official coronation of the new toytown monarches and their hapless marionettes, and the rubber-stamping of medieval, despotic politics in a hi-tech nature.

Miner at his evening banquet, 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 mix modes from art and photojournalism. As a immigrant, he drew a disinterested, outsiders perspective, claiming that he wasnt making a political item, but his depicts have become the defining portraits of the Great Depression.

Brandt likewise wanted to bringing his highly stylised approaching to photograph sturdy paintings of the people who lived and wreaked in these industrial parishes like this shot Brandts most celebrated image from his northern passage taken in 1937, of a Northumbrian miner feeing his tea, watched over by his wife.

Although for me there is a sense that Brandt has carefully constituted this paint, targeting the characters and setting the give, does this detract from the strength of the epitome? Brandts northern design never drew him coin and was published only later. But what he had achieved with these portraits was an extraordinary coming together of styles to create a stark and evocative vision of Britain never 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 every aspect of British life. On 1 October 1938, the Picture Post was launched, a weekly publication fitted with photographs on every sheet, the fact-finding mission announcement to make a visual record of British people at home, at work and at play-act.

David Weir, Paralympic Games, 2012

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

Melanie C, singer

This shot is incredible. David Weir with his trademark howling is on the racetrack in his win constitute, limbs spread broad and his competitors blurred in the background. We have celebrated Olympic players for a very long time, but certainly the people who are achieving extraordinary things against the report is our Paralympians, who for so long were overlooked.

When it came to people with disabilities, I used to feel unsure about the decorum, but the biggest thing that we gained from 2012 s Paralympics was the way it changed attitudes in general. It was a really special hour and it shifted peoples positions for ever. Weir retained names. He won the marathon. He acquired four goldens in 2012.

Britain has a reputation for being a bit negative, a bit bleak. But that summertime we testified 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. It was a wonderful epoch, and, for me, this image imparts so much better supremacy, persuasivenes, tenacity all that is the Paralympics was. ( As told to Harriet Gibsone )

Battle of Cable Street, Aldgate, London, 5 October 1936. An anti-fascist gang, some of them carrying weapons, run from a roadblock the government had made near Aldgate. The police are charging on the far side of the barricade, which has been reinforced with paving stones. Image: Heritage Images/ Getty Images

Battle of Cable Street, 5 October 1936

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London

More than 80 years ago in October 1936 thousands of courageous and heroic people, women and children gathered to oppose fascism in what became known as the Battle of Cable Street.

That day, Mosleys tyrants were forced into a humiliating retreat something achieved only through the influence of people and communities coming together. A coalition was constitute of Jewish East Enders, Irish dockworkers, trade unionists, Labour party members and many more coming together in solidarity to accept autocracy and everything associated with it.

This was a historic important turning point, a succes that had lasting repercussions because it showed that autocracy could be used resisted through communities unifying something that should continue to inspire us.

Last October, the 80 th commemoration of Cable Street, I was proud to join another bloc of politicians, the Jewish community, trade unions, anti-racist organisations, Bangladeshi associations and many others , is not merely to honour and recollect the brave people who fought against fascism in 1936, but to show our commitment and resolve to continue that engage. To say: where reference is learn things the hell is contentious, go against our British prices and are just profoundly wrong, we must call them out; well never give fascism, intolerance or prejudice dominate. 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, vocalist

Whats so cool about this word-painting is that you have an iconic British bronze alongside a message on gender equality. There were a onus 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 brush their hair. Even in the music manufacture, husbands have tried to quieten me down and package me differently. Now girls want to express themselves and be a part of things. Its about grouped together to stand up for reasons we believe in, and being intersectional in our feminism. This posting has such a powerful content its unapologetic, its ferociou. Its not going to be tamed by anybody. Nobodys going to tell a lion to shut up theyd be chewed!

It appears as if someone has left this poster there at the end of the march. It is a piece of art it hinders on telling a storey even when youve got on the Tube and gone home. ( As told to Leah Harper )

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

A Line Stimulated By Walking, 1967

Nadav Kander, photographer

I “wouldve been” thoughts having this photograph in my home and it intending different things to me at different times in my life. Its a envision thats so matured. Before you understand what it illustrates, its such a nourishing, simple-minded likenes. Then, when you read that this was a line that Richard Long composed himself, by walking up and down, up and down theres something so metaphorical and subtle about it.

I love photography in which the artist can be seen in the likenes. Long has recorded his own influence on countries around the world and the direction he occupies his surrounds with this photograph. That ordinance of making art is beautiful to me; it ever moves me improbably 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 periodical 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 are able to know the girl imaged. Its that various kinds of elegance and prowess that I love.

Sometimes, when an master intervenes in their skill, I find it unbelievably heavy-handed its so obvious, like an interior design publication. But with Longs work is featherlight and nuanced. The party behind the image ever interests me just as much as the picture itself and I like to see their fingerprint in the performance of their duties. ( As told to Leah Harper )

David Cameron, June 2015

David Cameron at the European heads of state and of government and governments conference at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels. The Financial Times employed this photograph following the end of Brexit. Photo: Wiktor Dabkowski/ eyevine

Jeanette Winterson, writer

This photograph though taken in 2015 was on the front encompas of the Financial Times immediately after Brexit. Theres David Cameron, the legalised gambling, gambling Britain on the roulette wheel, confident the pellet would revolve softly back to black. Instead, the economic 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 intelligence of the Tory party delighted they had been allowed to bet the country on a deluded dream of an island territory. And those cheap scams, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, stimulating to an outcome that would work in the service of their personal ambition.

That nauseating darknes, 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 luxurious sons out of touch with the miseries its own policy had functioned. No plan for what would happen next. Cameron resigned. I belief he thought that was noble. He should have been forced to clean up his own mess. Not walk away to oblige millions.

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

The final occurrence 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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