Naked Britain by fashion photographer Amelia Allen documents the life and leisure of British naturists. Published in the form of a book, the series is presented in an exhibition open now until 4th of April at Close Gallery in Edinburgh.
Right after high school, Amelia Allen moved to London for an internship – she wanted to learn from experience, rather than from education. At 22, she is now a successful fashion photographer, with a newly-released documentary project of her own. Naked Britain is a clear demonstration of Allen’s comprehensive sense of the photographic medium. “To shoot this series I had to remove the concerns – typical of a stylised fashion shoot – on the garment and model. Documentary photography to me is more about the mood, and the sequence of pictures,” she says.
Over two years, Allen regularly visited naturist communities in the UK, interviewing and photographing the members. To better relate to her subjects and have a deeper understanding of their psychology, Allen gave up on clothes herself. Her photographic quest became an immersive experience, that allowed Allen to personally feel the liberation she was documenting.
Portrait of the author, Amelia Allen
Free from aesthetic standards
Stripped off aesthetic pressures, naturists embrace their body, whichever its form. In the series, people of all ages and shapes go to the pub, have dinner parties, take swims, relaxed and comfortable in their own skin.
There are no close-ups of body parts, the focus is completely off the details and onto the beauty of the scene as a whole. The viewer’s gaze is captured more by the subjects’ facial expressions than by their nudity. Freed from the social constructs that weigh on body parts, a community where breasts and bottoms are exposed everywhere becomes the “least sexual environment” Allen has ever been confronted to. Naked Britain represents a deconstruction of the physical pressures imposed by the fashion industry and social media.
Allen is now working on a documentary project on British women 100 years after they obtained the right to vote, alongside her fashion work. “I like being able to travel with my work and meet new people from different walks of life, and, through shooting Naked Britain, I was able to do this,” she tells us. For as much as Naked Britain is a third person tale, it is also about Allen herself. Her personality is omnipresent in the book: every page is charged with personal involvement, honest amusement, and good taste.
Images from “Naked Britain” © Amelia Allen