In these waning days of summer, the season’s last trip to the beach might be in sight. Yet as photographer Markéta Luskacová can attest, a harsh turn in the weather can’t deter the working class folks of North East England from enjoying time by the sea. In a series of photographs made in the 1970s, Luskacová captured the people (and the dogs and ponies) of Whitley Bay as they walked, picnicked, played, lounged, ate and swam at the beach.
The images will be published for the first time this September by RRB PhotoBooks. An exhibition featuring the work is currently on display at Martin Parr Foundation, an organization that aims to revive important photography overlooked by history.
Luskacová‘s long forgotten photographs of Whitley Bay “show the sense of community that this area is rightly noted for, with the family scenes at its heart,” states Martin Parr, a Magnum photographer and founder of the Martin Parr Foundation.
Luskacová, who was born in Prague, has lived in the UK since 1975. She first went to the northern coast of her new home in 1976 to visit photographer Chris Killip who, early in his lauded career, worked as a beach photographer. She fell in love with Whitley Bay and the staunch beachgoers who were determined to enjoy their time by the sea, no matter the weather. Two years later in 1978, the Amber Film and Photography Collective invited her to photograph the region alongside Martine Franck, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Paul Caponigro.
“I was very touched by it all: the families with children, old women in their best hats, elderly couples with grandchildren, teenagers courting shyly or boisterously,” writes Luskacová of Whitley Bay in a press release about her new book and exhibition, By the Sea: Photographs from the North East, 1976-1980. “The dogs and children were everywhere…The fairground and the omnipresent tents, fortresses against the wind and rain, the seaside cafes selling sandwiches, apple pies, custard pies, ice creams and teas, of course.”
Though well known in photographic circles, Luskačová’s has not gained the exposure and recognition of her contemporaries. The exhibition and book aim to create a renewed interest in Luskačová’s work and to introduce it to new audiences.