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Arts & Culture

Peter Marlow: A Life in Pictures

Magnum Photographers pay homage to the work of their late colleague Peter Marlow, who died in 2016

Peter Marlow

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Peter Marlow Sheep in the village of Blaennau Ffestiniog, Wales. They walk the village streets during winter, as the tarmac is warmer than the surrounding fields and hills. A year after the Chernobyl nuclear ac (...)
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Peter Marlow Police making an arrest during the race riots in Lewisham. London, England, GB. 1977.

When I first met Peter he was a top rate photojournalist, before he found his more personal voice. I (...)
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Peter Marlow Felix and Max Naylor Marlow on Felix's second birthday. Gee Street, London, GB. 2001.

"I never saw my own kids grow up. Peter was a great photographer but also a very dedicated father. I (...)
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Peter Marlow Concorde taking off in the days prior to it retiring from service in October 2003. Heathrow Airport, London, GB. 2003.

”I have always been able to identify a lot with Peter’s fascination (...)
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Peter Marlow The Liverpool Project. Liverpool, England, GB. March. 1985.

“This was the first image I saw by Peter, I loved it, and still do; it has this hyperrealism to it, I can watch this image for (...)
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Peter Marlow 7am outside Hamilton Square Station. Birkenhead, Liverpool, GB. November 5, 1985.

“Looking through Peter's work I was amazed at the elegance, restraint and craft in his photographs: a ref (...)
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Peter Marlow Waiting for the WRVS (Women's Royal Voluntary Service) to arrive with lunch. Tower Hill, Kirkby, Liverpool, GB. December 1986.

"I find it difficult to take out one picture from the beauti (...)
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Peter Marlow
Watching Liverpool FC lose 1-0 to Manchester United. Anfield, England, GB. December 1986.

”When I started photography, I discovered the work of Peter Marlow in the Swiss magazine ‘Cam (...)
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Peter Marlow
The demolition of what was once the largest grain silo in the world. Brunswick Dock, Liverpool, England, GB. August. 1990.

“I will always be grateful of how welcoming Peter was since (...)
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Peter Marlow
A fish and chip stall inside the New Brighton fair. Liverpool, England, GB. August. 1990.

“This picture of a fish and chips stall in Liverpool typifies Peter’s daily life style of pho (...)
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Peter Marlow
Cafe with a painting of the Concorde. Lydd airport, Kent, GB. 2001.

“Peter was most at ease with the square format of which he became a master, so much so that his online Magnum port (...)
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Peter Marlow
Concorde memorabilia at Christmas. England, GB. 2003.

"The Concorde gave off a sense of perfection. No wonder Peter was seduced by it: it matched his own desire of precision; it fitte (...)
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Peter Marlow
Max putting on his sun cream. Peter Marlow and family on holiday. Galicia, Spain. 2003.

“While I’ve always admired Peter’s work, it was only after his passing that I became familiar w (...)
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Peter Marlow
Students without their own electricity have to revise in public places during the evenings. Port au Prince, Haiti. 1975.

“Last year I got a call from the office asking me to substitut (...)
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Peter Marlow
Max (12yrs.) and Felix (7 yrs.) play fighting on holiday with Peter Marlow on holiday. Norfolk Broads, England, GB.

“Peter has an archive of many powerful photographs taken on projec (...)
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Peter Marlow
Longbridge Rover Plant. Birmingham, England, GB. 2006.

”In 2005, Peter had this great idea about photographing the Rover car plants in Birmingham, which had been dismantled and the ma (...)
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Peter Marlow
A family holiday in Greece. Peter Marlow with his partner Fiona Naylor and their children, Max (14yrs.), Felix (9yrs.) and Theo (4yrs.). Zakynthos, Greece. 2008.

“How do you codify s (...)
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Peter Marlow
Coventry Cathedral (St Michael’s). from 'The English Cathedral', a Book published by Merrell in October 2012. Between 2010 and 2012 Peter Marlow photographed the Nave's of all forty-two of Engl (...)
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Peter Marlow
Salisbury Cathedral (Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary), from 'The English Cathedral', a book published by Merrell in October 2012. England, GB. 2012.

“Peter is one of the (...)
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Peter Marlow
Opening presents on Christmas morning with Peter Marlow's family at The Experimental Station, the family weekend home. Dungeness, Kent, England, GB. 2008.

“I don’t know how to put it, (...)
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Peter Marlow
The architect Zaha Hadid. London, England, GB. 2006.

”As I was browsing through Peter's work in search of a favorite, I came across his portrait of the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Ha (...)
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Peter Marlow
The view from Mont St. Michel on a family holiday. Normandy, France. 2006.

“In Peter’s family photographs I find a warmth and intimacy on a wholly other level. I wish I’d appreciated (...)
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Peter Marlow
Dungeness. Kent, GB.

”I always saw Peter as something of a father figure in Magnum, both for myself coming in as a young photographer - lending equipment, teaching me how to deal wit (...)
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Peter Marlow
Felix Naylor Marlow in Fiona's high heels. Gee Street, London, GB. 2005.

”Since Peter died I have been digging through his pictures in Cortex. In a way he was among the photographers (...)
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Peter Marlow
Concorde landing, after the BA002 flight from New York, prior to the aircraft retiring from service in October 2003. Heathrow Airport, London, GB.

“For over forty years Peter has play (...)
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Peter Marlow
'MOBYThe Movie'. Peter Marlow used a Super-8 movie camera during this portrait shoot, in the garden of the Hempel Hotel, to photograph the American Rockstar Moby, in London to promote his ne (...)
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Peter Marlow
In the Alps near Chamonix. Argentiere, France. 2001.

“Peter and Fiona and their 3 sons spent Christmas holiday with us in 2001 near Chamonix, in the French Alps. He took that photogra (...)
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Peter Marlow
Marlow’s son, Max, who was then six years old, plays in his pyjamas, with some pebbles and makes a 'heart' shape on the deck at the 'Loft' apartment of Peter Marlow and Fiona Naylor in the Cler (...)
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Peter Marlow
The hotel staff bow to leaving visitors. Because competition is so fierce, hotels try to be as hospitable as possible. Wakayama Project. Japan. 1998.

“I’ve always loved this picture, (...)
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Peter Marlow
A view over shingle, the largest expanse of it in Western Europe. Romney Marsh, Dungeness, Kent, GB. 1996.

”Des traces, le vent, le silence. Parfois, au détour d’une association d’idé (...)
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Peter Marlow
Peter Marlow. Cornwall, GB. 1989.

“Looking through his archive again, it is clear that Peter has so many great photographs from before and after I met him. So it is too hard to choose. (...)
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Peter Marlow
Scavenger on his way home with a bag full of copper wire to weigh in at a local scrap yard at Bidston Moss tip, Birkenhead. Liverpool, GB. April, 1985.

“Here's the cover image from Pe (...)
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Peter Marlow
A burnt-out children's playground. Childwall Valley, Liverpool, GB. December, 1985.

”I’ve always liked and admired this image from a great take Peter did on Liverpool. Although, in re (...)
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Peter Marlow
Sheil Road market on a Sunday morning. Liverpool, England, GB. January, 1988.

”I met Peter only once, but his warmth and integrity made a strong impression on me. In his work from Li (...)
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Peter Marlow
Tony and Marie, unemployed, in their children's bedroom. Heathfield Road, Tower Hill, Kirkby, Liverpool, GB. October, 1985.

”Like all of us I am still shocked at Peter's passing. When (...)
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Peter Marlow
As part of a project sponsored and exhibited by The Photographer's Gallery to photograph London by Night, Peter Marlow chose as his main focus ‘The Isle of Dogs', in the London Docklands. Many (...)
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Peter Marlow
Public space on The Isle of Dogs. London, GB. 1982.

“Many years ago, Peter Marlow showed me some of his prints from the Isle of Dogs. At the time, I only knew his journalistic work, (...)
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Peter Marlow
A prisoner at HM Prison Risley is visited by friends and family. With writer Russell Miller, in 1981, the British Home office gave Peter Marlow permission for the first time ever to photograph (...)
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Peter Marlow
Students watching the Eton Wall Game, a vigorous hybrid of rugby union and football played since 1766 on Ascension Day, between two opposing teams of students. Eton School, Windsor, GB.
(...)
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Peter Marlow
A soldier of the 3rd Anglian Regiment stands guard over an inter-regiment cricket match at Hollywood Barracks near Belfast. Ten years after the arrival of British troops in the province, the b (...)
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Peter Marlow
A wasteland on the Isle of Dogs, created from the mud removed during the building of the London Docks. Isle of Dogs, London, GB.

”Here’s one image I was thinking of to remember Peter (...)
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Peter Marlow
Chloe Marlow and Peter Marlow. Tuscany, Italy. 1993.

"Peter and I on another road trip through Italy. At the end ofthis train journey we arrived in Grosseto to find all the hotels (...)
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Peter Marlow Chosen by Felix Naylor Marlow. Felix Naylor Marlow learning how to dive on a family summer holiday near Calvi. Corsica, France. 2005. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
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Peter Marlow Chosen by Fiona Naylor. A family Christmas at the Landmark Trust Property, The Culloden Tower. Culloden Tower was built in 1746 to commemorate the Hanovarian victory over the Jacobite Scots at Cull (...)
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Peter Marlow Chosen by Theo Naylor Marlow. Peter Marlow's son Theo in the shower with his mother, Fiona. The Experimental Station. Dungeness, Kent, GB. 2010. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos
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Peter Marlow Chosen by Max Naylor Marlow. Swiftcurrent Lake near Many Glacier in the Glacier National Park. Montana, USA. © Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos

Following the sudden and tragic passing of Magnum photographer Peter Marlow in February, Magnum hosted a memorial exhibition celebrating his life and work. Curated by Peter’s colleagues and friends in the Magnum membership, the exhibition spans his early work as a photojournalist in Haiti, his seminal photographs from ‘Liverpool: Looking Out to Sea’ and his lifelong commitment to documenting his family. Each photograph was selected by his friends and colleagues, with comments from each shedding light on how his practice affected theirs, intertwined in their lives.

Chris Steele-Perkins writes, “This selection of photographs was made by Peter’s fellow photographers in Magnum from his enormous and varied archive. They are from various stages in his career and illuminate various aspects of his personality. They are photographs that have special meaning for the photographers who write eloquently about their reasons for choosing these images.”

Peter Marlow was an internationally recognised photographer, and a member of Magnum Photos since 1980. Although gifted in the language of photojournalism, Peter Marlow was not a photojournalist. He was initially, however, one of the most enterprising and successful young British news photographers, and in 1976 joined the Sygma agency in Paris.

He soon found that he lacked the necessary appetite for the job while on assignment in Lebanon and Northern Ireland during the late 1970s; he discovered that the stereotype of the concerned photojournalist often disguised the disheartening reality of dog- eat-dog competition between photographers hunting fame at all costs.

In the early 80s, his work shifted in style and tone as, often shooting in colour, he concentrated on portraiture and extended documentary projects. In 1981 he shot what is now considered an iconic portrait of Margaret Thatcher at the Conservative party conference in Blackpool, and in the 90s he worked in a long-term collaboration with Tony Blair as New Labour rose to power.

An ever thoughtful photographer, Marlow also created personal images that possessed a quiet, lingering power, based on close observation of the subject. One of his most well known series is Liverpool: Looking Out to Sea, for which he spent eight years in the 80s and 90s photographing the city’s declining inner heart and docklands.

Marlow had come full circle. He started his career as an international photojournalist, returned to Britain to examine his own experience, and discovered a new visual poetry that enabled him to understand his homeland. Having found this poetry, he took it back on the road: he photographed as much in Japan, the USA and elsewhere in Europe as he did in the UK.

Fellow photographer Martin Parr said of his work: “As well as being a fine photographer… It is difficult to overestimate Peter’s contribution to Magnum over the years”.

Peter Marlow died in London on 21st February 2016 from influenza contracted during a stem cell transplant.

“Together these photographs start to reflect on and celebrate a life well lived, and also underline the loss of a complex, energetic, talented and compassionate man whose death came far to soon,” writes Chris Steele-Perkins.

Click into the caption of each image to read the written contributions and reflections from Peter’s colleagues and friends.