Observations of Melancholy Part 2: A Photographic History: From the Victorians to the Present Day – Nick Yapp

28 Sep

The 20th century was, looking back on it one crazy century and Nick Yapp has taken it upon himself to collect photos that chronicle life and its assorted times between the years of 1900 to 2003.

As you would expect all the seminal events are given ample room, everything from the Wright brothers, the Titanic, all the major wars, Nelson Mandela freed, various sporting events etc, (although there’s no room for photos of the victory parade from Mansfield Town FC’s glorious Freight Rover Trophy win of 1987).

But as fascinating as those photos are, my real interest rested in the people pictured in their day to day lives and how, when viewed from a completely unbiased point of reference, they could be interpreted.

To me each photo holds at least a spark of melancholy, either from the faux happy faces masking the strain of fear during the Blitz to the innocuous, such as people posing outside a factor or for a family photo, these latter I can blame on my wild imagination, judging in hindsight about how our society evolved or just some ungraspable element that I have conjured up out of the ether. It’s a hobby of mine, almost a fetish.

Each photo is its own rich memory bank, whether it be of a personal nature to someone who knows the photo protagonists or to the casual observers who just sees the rich and fascinating tapestry of all the ideas and possibilities that each person conjures up.  The mundane becomes fascinating in the viewer’s eyes, these are stories begging to be told.

The inverse of that of course centres around the real tragedies of life. The most appallingly shocking being the Holocaust, something which will resonate forever as one of the darkest times of civilization if that word can even be used in this context.  Looking at those photographs words fail me…

The changing and cycling through and back around again of all things has long fascinated me, this is best reflected in each photos attire of the day and as strange as it seems it gave me an interest in the changing of fashions of the past century.  It is amazing what you can find interesting after having spent most of your life only buying one item of clothing a year (that doesn’t include socks).

Through it all though, thanks to the age of the camera,  we can see the hopes, fears and aspirations, the pride and horror to be had in equal portions, like snapshots in the old family photo album of humanity, stark glimpses of life strugglers and revellers. A celebration of all facets of life both good and bad, endlessly open to interpretation and possibility, quite predictably this makes me both happy and sad.


Posted by on 28/09/2012 in History, Melancholy, Photography


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11 responses to “Observations of Melancholy Part 2: A Photographic History: From the Victorians to the Present Day – Nick Yapp

  1. RoSy

    28/09/2012 at 22:20

    Thanks for his post! This shall make another great gift for my son come Christmas time 🙂


    • StetotheJ

      29/09/2012 at 09:50

      I’m all about the ideas, it’s a book that remains fascinating, my copy is well thumbed and makes a good conversation starter too.


  2. Claire 'Word by Word'

    29/09/2012 at 06:32

    This was a book or an exhibition? Sounds fascinating.


    • StetotheJ

      29/09/2012 at 09:51

      It’s a book, but I got lost in it and let my mind wander down avenues I may not have noticed a few years ago. Ever the romantic, that’s me these days lol.


      • Claire 'Word by Word'

        29/09/2012 at 11:23

        Sign of a great book and provocative images, they open your imagination to other experiences, avenues you’ve never wandered, thoughts you’ve never had and as you say, bringing out the romantic in you, that I suspect has always been there, just needed the right kind of stimulus to awaken it. 🙂


        • StetotheJ

          29/09/2012 at 14:01

          I think that since I have been blogging, the reading and exploring of all the great blogs out there has been exactly what I needed to get my mind going down all those esoteric paths that television has no chance of ever reaching. So as always I your good self and all the other bloggers out there for sharing yourselves with me.


  3. pennycoho

    29/09/2012 at 07:14

    An excellent follow-up to Melancholy Part 1. Your observations about the book are spot on I think, the good and the bad perspectives perhaps but a reality all the same. Do you suppose we (humans) will ever reach some kind of Juxtaposition, instead of the one step forward two steps back with our advancing (?) civilization, oh crap, now I’m melancholy too. See what a fine job you did. So to feel better I will think on something positive. Your writing. It’s good. I’m impressed! Thank you, Penny


    • StetotheJ

      29/09/2012 at 10:13

      Until we make politicians, big businesses and bankers, etc properly accountable for screwing over the general public then I don’t think anything will change. I think there needs to be a radical rethink of most things we do in order for anything to get better. So no I doubt anything will change in a hurry. Crikey, listen to me all serious. I shall now take a long wallow over in your blog/house and get myself more positive again.


      • pennycoho

        29/09/2012 at 14:50

        I agree with your comments, many things change but actual progress is slow, you are definitely welcome to wallow! 🙂


  4. letizia

    29/09/2012 at 18:08

    What an intriguing book. The cover image itself is fascinating. As you point out, the mix of everyday activities in the middle of sometimes extraordinary situations. Beautifully reviewed.


    • StetotheJ

      01/10/2012 at 15:00

      The cover image is exactly that, I wonder how many times i have wandered down the street, looking but not really observing and have missed so many unique images that would expand my understanding of the way we live. I suppose my thoughts would go for any photography book but this one has such an eclectic mix of times that it really is something to get lost in.



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