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Living History group area, with 1940s mobile canteen, Biggin Hill International Air Fair, Kent, England, UK, 27 June 2009.

Melanie Friend
The Home Front

September 5 to 29 at Ryerson Artspace at the Gladstone
September 16 to 29 at Gallery 310, The School of Image Arts

Opening Reception at Artspace Gallery: Wednesday, September 5, 7 – 9 pm
Artist Talk and Closing Reception: School of Image Arts, Room 307, September 26, 6:30 pm

Toronto, ON – Melanie Friend’s The Home Front explores links between militarism, marketing and entertainment, with a particular focus on public air shows that take place in the UK at Royal Air Force (RAF) bases and in the skies above seaside resorts. Beaches are temporarily militarized by the fleeting screech of contemporary fighter jets such as the Tornado (in recent years deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan) interwoven with displays by WWII “warbirds” such as the Lancaster bomber. The work aims to inspire reflection on the normalization of war in UK culture. Air shows are a “fun day out” for the family: on the ground at RAF bases, tank rides are offered and armed forces’ recruitment drives afford children an opportunity to indulge in their fascination with guns. In David Gee’s independent report “Informed Choice: Armed Forces Recruitment Practice in the United Kingdom” (cited in Stephen Armstrong, “Britain’s Child Army,” The New Statesman, February 5, 2007), Colonel David Allfrey, head of the army’s recruitment strategy, once remarked: “It starts with a seven-year-old boy seeing a parachutist at an air show and thinking, ‘That looks great.’ From then the army is trying to build interest by drip, drip, drip.” The Home Front was nominated for the Prix Pictet award in 2013 & 2014 and The Home Front publication (Dewi Lewis Publishing in association with Impressions Gallery, 2013) was nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photographic Prize 2015.

The Home Front first opened in 2013 at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, UK, curated by Pippa Oldfield. This selection of works, presented in two Toronto venues, was curated by Anne Massoni, Photography Program Director at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Toronto presentation is organized by Katy McCormick, Associate Professor, Photography Studies, Ryerson, with support from the Documentary Media Research Centre (DMRC), the Documentary Media MFA Program and the School of Image Arts, Ryerson University.

Hawker Hunter fighter, Southport Air Show, Merseyside, England, UK, 24 July 2011.

Melanie Friend started her career as a photojournalist and radio reporter producing photographs for the anti-nuclear movement and for The Guardian and Independent newspapers, and radio features for BBC Radio Four & BBC World Service. From the mid 1990s she began working on long-term photographic projects. No Place Like Home: Echoes from Kosovo (Midnight Editions, USA) was one of The Independent’s “Books of the Year” (2001). Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, Toronto, the Hasselblad Centre, Sweden and the Houston Center for Photography, USA. Touring exhibitions, with accompanying publications, include Homes and Gardens: Documenting the Invisible (1996), and Border Country (2007). Border Country was shortlisted for the European Central Bank Europe Photographic Award 2008. Friend has given guest lectures about her work at the universities of Oxford (UK), Harvard (USA), and The University of the Arts (Philadelphia, USA) among others. Her prints are held by the National Portrait Gallery, London, the James Hyman Gallery, London and in private collections. Friend is Reader in Photography in the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex, UK. Her website is at

Melanie Friend will present a free public lecture on her work on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 6:30 pm in The School of Image Arts, Room 307, 122 Bond Street. There will be a reception following in Gallery 310.

Melanie Friend’s exhibition The Home Front was made possible with the support of fine art digital inkjet paper from Innova Art Limited, USA:, the School of Media, Film & Music at University of Sussex, UK, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, USA, and the Documentary Media Research Center, The Documentary Media MFA Program, and the School of Image Arts, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Media Contact: Katy McCormick:


Ryerson Artspace at the Gladstone
Hours: Thursday & Friday 1 - 8pm Saturday & Sunday 12 - 7pm
1214 Queen St West Toronto, ON M6J 1J6





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