Little Chefs (1989)

As I drove round Britain in the 1980s, I often found myself stopping to eat in Little Chef restaurants. They had become an integral part of a new British landscape, so I photographed them and the slideshow here presents fifteen of these images.

The full set of forty pictures was exhibited at the Ffotogallery, Cardiff in 1989, and the statement below was written to accompany that exhibition.

The same year, a selection of pictures were included in the Première International Biennale in Nice, France. The bilingual catalogue statement is also included here.

The review by John Stathatos was published in Art Monthly, March 1989, and the short text by Susan Butler is from her essay ‘From Today, Black and White is Dead’ in Creative Camera, December 1985. (The essay was reprinted in David Brittain ed, The Creative Camera Reader, Manchester University Press, 2000.)

While photographing the Little Chefs, I collected a lot of ephemeral material, some of which became important for the work. In particular, Lord Forte’s statement that Mrs Thatcher had been sent by God seemed a rather apt addition.

In 1990, a set of 54 Little Chef photographs were purchased by The Royal Commission for Historic Monuments. Their collection is now housed in the Historic England Archive in Swindon. And in 2000, two prints were purchased by the Arts Council of England. These were the contrasting pictures made in the Wye Valley and the Lancashire Coalfield; they can be found on the Arts Council Collection website at:
www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk/artist/walker-ian

These two photographs were included in the ACE exhibition Fleeting Arcadias, which toured many venues in England in 2000-1. In 2012, the Lancashire photograph was borrowed for the exhibition The World We Live In at the Turnpike Gallery, Leigh.

B LIttle Chef for Intro page