Boy with rope at Toffee Park Adventure Playground, 2016
Dimensions: 550 x 660mm, unframed
Medium: C-type print
Numbered and signed by the artist, edition of 20
In 2016, Mark Neville began photographing children involved in ‘free’ play at playgrounds in north London. This new body of work is on display for the Foundling Museum's exhibition Child’s Play, as part of a wider project including a symposium and book, all with one aim: to improve conditions in Britain for children’s play. The boy's pose and intensity of his expression suggest how seriously he is taking play. At this playground children can build camps, grow vegetables, cook, take part in arts and crafts, learn about wildlife, hunt for bugs and creepy crawlies, and play amongst the trees. Sometimes the children, intent on play without interruption, would tell Neville to stop taking photographs, saying: 'NO, MARK, STOP, THIS IS SERIOUS!'.
Mark Neville is a British artist who works at the intersection of art and documentary, investigating the social function of photography. His photographic projects to date have frequently made the communities he portrays the primary audience for the work. Alongside solo exhibitions at Alan Cristea Gallery, the Imperial War Museum and the Photographers’ Gallery, he has undertaken numerous commissions: photographic works for the Andy Warhol Museum exploring the legacy of the steel industry in Pittsburgh; and a critically-acclaimed photo essay Here Is London for the New York Times Magazine, nominated by the paper for the Pulitzer Prize 2013. A major monograph of his socially-engaged projects from the past ten years, Fancy Pictures (Steidl, 2016), was selected as one of TIME magazine's best photobooks of 2016.