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Press release

  • 4 October 2005
  • Art history professor recognised for contribution to photography

    Professor Mellor

    Professor Mellor


    After three decades of curating the works of some of the world's most famous photographers, a University of Sussex art historian is to be recognised for his own contribution to the art form.


    Professor David Alan Mellor will receive the Royal Photographic Society's J Dudley Johnston Award this year at a special ceremony at the Royal Institution, London, on October 6.  He will be joined by celebrated photographers, including David Bailey and Martin Parr, who will also be receiving special awards.


    Professor Mellor shares his prize with Ian Jeffrey, a former Sussex academic and currently history of art lecturer at Goldmith's College, who has collaborated with Professor Mellor for several exhibition projects. 


    Professor Mellor says: "I believe this is a sort of 'lifetime achievement award' for helping to legitimise photography as an art form. When Ian and I first curated an exhibition of photographs at the Hayward Gallery in 1975, we had a huge space to fill and we were able to offer a new way of thinking about where photography fitted in the history of art."


    In later exhibitions, such as Cityscape at the Royal Academy in 1977, they broke from tradition by displaying photography alongside sculpture and painting. Professor Mellor remembers: "Until then, people had always segregated media so that sculpture never said anything about painting, and photography never said anything about sculpture. We helped to change that agenda."


    Professor Mellor's research focuses on aspects of 20th century art, photography and film. He is interested in ways in which visual culture is related to broader cultural histories and questions of modernisation, particularly in Britain.


    He is currently putting together an exhibition entitled Strategies of Tension, 1970-1985 , for the Mead Centre at Warwick University This show will present an innovative account of visual culture in Britain during this formative post-war period.


    Last year Turner Prizewinner Jeremy Deller paid tribute to his former art history tutor, Professor Mellor. He said: "David was the reason I came to Sussex. I heard a lecture he gave. I like the way he looks at culture and connects disparate subjects. We share a lot of interests, particularly sub-cultures."


    Notes for editors 

    University of Sussex Press Officers Jacqui Bealing or Maggie Clune, Tel: 01273 678888, Email:,


    The Royal Photographic Society Awards take place at the Faraday Lecture Theatre at the Royal Institution, London on October 06, 2005.


    Press contact:  Simon James, Tel: 020 7692 9961


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