Peter Mitchell Memento Mori
Publish Date May 2016
Facsimile edition of the first edition of 1990
With a new afterword by Peter Mitchell
23 x 21 cm
About this title
A long overdue facsimile reprint of a title that has been out of print for many years.
Quarry Hill Flats was a large housing estate, built on continental lines and peculiar to Leeds. The largest and most modern of their kind in Europe, housing around 3,000 people, the Flats were constructed during the 1930s as part of a 'great social experiment' to accommodate an entire urban community. But soon the daring vision for the future began to crumble - literally - and by the 1950s the Flats were infamous. During the 1970s the decision was made to demolish the 'stone jungle' and Peter Mitchell arrived in Leeds in time to record the passing of the great estate.
This is not merely a record of demolition but a tribute to the power of photography, to those who engineered and built the Flats, to the people who lived and died in the Flats and to the city of Leeds itself. Using archive material - much of it private and unpublished - Memento Mori details the ideas behind the Flats, their construction, and their eventual demise. Why did it fail? Was it some flaw in the grand design, or a combination of factors? And what did the inhabitants themselves actually feel about their surroundings? Memento Mori offers answers to some of these questions, but poses may more.
Peter Mitchell says: "I photograph dying buildings and Quarry Hill was terminal by the time I got to it. Times change and I know there was no point in keeping Quarry Hill Flats. But what it stood for might have been worth remembering.”
About Peter Mitchell
Peter Mitchell (1943) is a British photographer who has documented Leeds and the surrounding area for more than 40 years. His work is an essential part of the colour documentary scene of the 1970s and ‘80s, with his show A New Refutation of the Space Viking 4 Mission at Impressions gallery considered a landmark by his contemporaries in colour photography. Memento Mori was his first publication, in 1990. His first monograph, Strangely Familiar (Nazraeli Press, 2013) was one of the fastest selling photobooks of that year, and selected as one of the best photobooks of 2013 by Colin Pantall and by Gordon MacDonald. This was followed by 2015’s Some Thing means Everything to Somebody published to great critical acclaim by RRB Publishing.
“What is so interesting about this book is that is catches the pathos, almost tragedy, of a failed or crumbled utopian vision.”
Preface by Bernard Crick
“The contribution of Momento Mori to this whole question of the death and transfiguration of buildings is beyond price.”
Andrew Pawley, 20th Century Architecture: A Reader’s Guide
"A visual counterpart to George Orwell, combining similarly socialism and nostalgia."
Fiona MacCarthy, The Observer
“Chronicles the end of a wonderful dream which soon faded and finally died, possibly mourned by few apart from the compassionate Mr Mitchell.“
Bob Bird, Evening Sentinel
“Memento Mori is more than simply a catalogue of photographs, it is a visual document which conveys important
aspects of the estate as a complex social artefact.”
Michel-Pierre Elena, Design History Society
Reviews to follow shortly