Roger Mayne: Youth opens at The app Gallery

14 Jun 2024

The summer season at The app Gallery in London has opened with a five-star, major exhibition of photographs by the acclaimed post-war photographer, Roger Mayne, alongside displays of drawings and small-scale models by Henry Moore, and avant-garde works by Vanessa Bell.

The first-ever photography exhibition at The app,Roger Mayne: Youth (14 June – 1 Sep 2024) reassesses the importance of Roger Mayne (1929-2014), through the lens of his evocative black and white images of young people. The exhibition brings together the works of the 1950s and early 1960s for which he is famous, alongside lesser-known images of his own children. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue positions Mayne as crucially important in the emergence of documentary photography as an art form in Britain in the years after the war.

A self-taught photographer, having discovered the medium while studying chemistry at Balliol College, Oxford, Mayne moved to London in 1953. Inspired by the work of the artist Nigel Henderson, among others, he became passionate about photographing human life as he found it. He quickly achieved widespread recognition for his powerful images of communities struggling with poverty against a backdrop of dereliction in London and across the UK. Renowned for his sustained portrayal of Southam Street, now long gone but then located on the northern fringes of Notting Hill, Mayne’s dedication to photographing this one locale over a six-year period – from 1956 to 1961- was, and still is, extraordinary in the history of photography.

Mayne’s photography in the 1950s and early ‘60s captured an exuberance and an uneasiness that embodied both the scars and hopes of post-war Britain. In documenting the lives of young people growing up in Britain, his images highlight the significance of children’s play and the identity formation of the teenager in the post-war years, revealing the tectonic shifts in society at that time. Highlights includeChildren in a Bombed Building, Bermondsey, London(1954) and one of his most famous images,A Girl Jiving in Southam Street (Eileen Sheekey), London(1957).

In 1962 a new chapter opened in Roger Mayne’s personal life, when he married Ann Jellicoe, a pioneering and well-established playwright. Their honeymoon in Spain left Mayne feeling creatively nourished by the vitality of the people he encountered there. With children and young people still at the forefront of this fresh strand of image-making, he judged the photographs from this trip to be ‘the best series of photographs I have yet done.’ Following the birth of his own children and a move to the Dorset countryside in the mid-1960s, family life and the local bucolic landscape became a new backdrop for Mayne’s lens. The imagery of the street was replaced by that of a growing and adored family.

This exhibition, curated by Jane Alison in close collaboration with Mayne’s daughter, Katkin Tremayne, features over 60 vintage photographs, some never exhibited before. While the two bodies of work, street and family, have a different tenor, they are united by Mayne’s radical empathy with his youthful subjects and his desire to create photographic images that enjoy a lasting impact, produced with great sensitivity and artistic integrity. With Mayne’s post-war subjects now in their more senior years, and today’s younger generation facing a myriad crises, Mayne’s deliberations on growing up, childhood, adolescence and family feel especially poignant and timely.

Henry Moore: Shadows on the Wall
Until 22 Sep 2024
Gilbert andIldiko Butler Drawings Gallery

Shadows on the Wallconsiders Henry Moore’s (1898 – 1986) celebratedٱdrawings as the point of departure for a new reading of the artist’s fascination with images of the wall, during and immediately after World War II. From the London Underground, where Moore drew figures sheltering from the bomb raids, the walls of these spaces came to absorb his attention in an altogether new way, becoming scene-setters, and key components of his drawings. This fascination with the bricks and the presence of walls, their texture, mass and volume, became especially important following Moore’s project to illustrate the wartime radio playThe Rescue, based on Homer’sOdyssey.

This exhibition suggests for the first time that the walls in his drawings offer a new way to understand some of his most distinctive and monumental Post-War sculpture projects. The exhibition was conceived by Penelope Curtis and organised in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation.

The programme of displays in the Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Drawings Gallery is generously supported by the International Music and Art Foundation, with additional support from James Bartos.

The exhibition has been made possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. The app would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.

Vanessa Bell: A Pioneer of Modern Art
Until 6 Oct 2024
Project Space

Vanessa Bell (1879 –1961) was one of the leading artists associated with the Bloomsbury Group, the avant-garde community of artists, writers and philosophers who pioneered literary and artistic modernism in Britain at the beginning of the 20th century. This focused display in the Project Space celebrates The app’s significant collection of Bell’s work. Comprising 3 paintings, 1 woodcut and 8 works on paper, it includes her masterpieceA Conversation(1913-1916), as well as the bold, abstract textile designs she produced for the Omega Workshops, led by influential artist and critic Roger Fry in London, which aimed to abolish the boundaries between the fine and decorative arts and bring the arts into everyday life. The display highlights one of the most cutting-edge artists working in Britain in the early 20th century.

Good Morning, Midnight
Until 7 July 2024
Katja and Nicolai Tangen 20th Century Gallery

This summer, iconic works from The app’s collection will be presented in dialogue with artworks from the David and Indrė Roberts Collection for the first time. Curated by The app’s 2023-24 MA Curating the Art Museum students.

Roger Mayne: Youth
14 June – 1 September 2024

The app Gallery
Somerset House, Strand
London WC2R 0RN

Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00 (last entry 17:15).

Weekday tickets from £10; weekend tickets from £12
Temporary Exhibition tickets (includes entry to our Permanent Collection and displays) – Weekday tickets from £13; Weekend tickets from £15.

Friends and Under-18s go free. Other concessions available.

Friends get free unlimited entry to all exhibitions, access to presale tickets, priority booking to selected events, advance notice of art history short courses, exclusive events, discounts and more.Join at

The app Lates
14 June 2024; 30 August 2024 at The app Gallery
Over 18s only. £5- £14

The app Gallery will be open for late-night access until 22:30 on the first and last Friday of each of its temporary exhibitions as part of its app Lates series – giving visitors the chance to enjoy an evening of world-class art, cocktails and music surrounded by The app’s collection of masterpieces at Somerset House.Book now

Morgan Stanley Lates at Somerset House with The app
19 June 2024. Further dates to be announced.
Free to under 25s

Taking place three times per year, The Morgan Stanley Lates celebrate and explore the best of The app and Somerset House’s cultural programmes. Now with expanded programming for 2024 this includes exhibitions, installations, talks, performances, food pop ups and more.

Citations