May 8 2011: Two Postcards Showing Views of Sidmouth (1950s)

There’s something strangely compelling about these two postcards of Sidmouth, mainly, I think, because of the way the single colour has been used to enliven what are otherwise entirely monochrome photographs. The subject is a typical seaside town, frozen in a time before mass tourism, figures dotted on the beach and promenade with wide spaces between them, but that oddly intense pale blue adds another, unreal, layer. Perhaps it’s the way the blue suggests a Wedgewood Jasper cameo, the Greek flag, a Georgian drawing room or some bleached-out Virgin Mary’s shroud in a glass shrine. Perhaps it’s the sense that these images pre-date even the nostalgic idea of the English coastal resort, with its chip shops, floral curtains and amusements – all those garish intrusions into the kind of tranquilty depicted here that have themselves disappeared in turn. But with all that said, it’s the wash of blue against the otherwise predictable monochrome vistas that really brings these two images to life, though it’s hard to explain why something so minimal has such a notable effect on the visual interest created.

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