Chris Steele-Perkins is half Burmese, and had grown up in a country he never felt fully part of. He returned to England after documenting humanitarian crises abroad, and turned his mind to capturing, often as an outsider, the rapidly changing social landscape of 1980s Britain. He found an appreciation of “those qualities of Englishness I had not properly realised that I valued, such as the traditions – however flawed – of democracy, a rough tolerance, a capacity for self-mockery, a stoutness of spirit,” Steele-Perkins says. “Yet the mindless aggression, the hypocrisy, the chauvinism that narrows horizons and twists perspectives became even more detestable.”. Pictured here, Juliana’s Summer Party. 1989.

Everything shifts as you move, and different things come into focus at different points of your life, and you try to articulate that

Chris Steele-Perkins
© Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos

Chris Steele-Perkins was born in 1947 in Rangoon, Burma and at the age of two, moved to England with his father. At the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he studied psychology and worked for the student newspaper; he graduated with honors in 1970 and started to work as a freelance photographer, moving to London in 1971.

Steele-Perkins has produced some of the most iconic images of British society in the last half century, exploring youth subcultures, poverty and community with artful sensitivity. His more than 45-year career has seen him travel widely, making significant bodies of work in his home country of Myanmar, as well as Japan, Africa and Afghanistan, all of which have received critical acclaim.

Steele Perkins became a member of Magnum Photos in 1979 and continues to work in Britain and abroad.

© Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos

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