Our True Intent Is All For Delight

The John Hinde Butlin’s Photographs
January 29 2003 until May 18 2003
© Rudi Meisel
© Rudi Meisel
© Rudi Meisel
© Rudi Meisel

“Our true intent is all for your delight.” In 1960s and 70s Britain, Butlin’s Holiday Camps were synonymous with an affordable, fun holiday for the working classes. Average consumers could spend a dream summer, in the mass leisure industry that was a Butlin’s resort—regardless of Great Britain’s miserable weather. In the mid-1960s, Billy Butlin hired the famous John Hinde Studio in Dublin to make a series of new advertising postcards for the holiday camps. At a time when photography in Great Britain was mainly black and white, the successful John Hinde Studio in Dublin set new standards with its innovative color technique. They produced unique color postcards for Butlin’s Holiday Camps whose richly saturated colors and perfectly staged scenes present an unreal world of happy vacationing with equally happy vacationers—the paralysis of holiday pleasure in a bizarre, stuffily conservative environment, a candy-colored parallel universe in which everything is both everyday and extreme, both familiar and surreal. Martin Parr, one of the most important English photographers and a member of Magnum Photos, recognized the artistic importance of John Hinde Butlin’s photographs at an early stage and curated an exhibition of these exceptional social documentary works. He first discovered the photos in 1971 while working as a “walkie” at Butlin’s himself, taking photographs of vacationers. C/O Berlin presented this exhibition for the first time in Germany after its premiere at the Photographer’s Gallery, London.

As an exhibition “Special”, C/O Berlin showed "It’s how we are. Berlin photographs by Martin Parr." The photo series presented Parr’s unflinching view of everyday life in Berlin. His search for national prejudices led Parr to allotment gardens, snack kiosks, and ladies’ hair salons with their grotesque images of entirely normal life, their clichés, and lapses of taste.