Filling Station Closed

In the first half of the Twentieth Century the motorcar went from being an Edwardian eccentricity to a standard aspect of every day life for millions of British citizens. With its rapid growth in popularity came seismic changes to the country’s road network and the introduction of raft of new industries supporting those who used it. A boom in demand for mechanical expertise to service, repair and refuel and sell saw hundreds of ‘garages’ – taken from the French verb garer meaning ‘to shelter’ – open nationwide. Filling Station Closed in an ongoing photographic documentary project centred on the surviving automotive architecture from the period 1900 – 1939.Through this series, photographer Philip Butler aims to capture a selection of survivors with a broad range of architectural styles; from early structures reconfigured to capitalise on the birth of the motor car, through to streamline machine-age purpose built offerings of the mid-1930s. Wooden sheds, aircraft hangers, former forges, weird homemade extensions on earlier buildings, and futuristic brick cabins will all make an appearance in the collection.

Odeon Relics

Between 1928 and 1939, Oscar Deutsch wowed the British public with one of the most extraordinary estates of Streamline Moderne cinemas ever built – he named them Odeons. However, faced with growing challenges in a rapidly changing society increasingly captivated by television and home entertainment, many of these huge structures struggled to remain viable. Despite being recognised as architecturally important now, countless former Odeons have long since met with the wrecking ball, whilst others continue to fight for survival. As part of his ongoing project to document the surviving architecture of Britain’s inter-war years, photographer and writer Philip Butler travelled the country to capture what remains of Deutsch’s groundbreaking empire in the twenty-first century. From dazzling restorations to decaying shells, from sympathetic reconfigurations to careless alterations, the photographs highlight the varying fortunes of each building. This annotated comprehensive series of photographs has been collected together in the new hard-back book Odeon Relics.

Small Hours

Inspired by the 1977 John Martyn song of the same name, Small Hours is a collection of photographs produced to document the peaceful cinematic atmosphere that isolated points of artificial light create after the sun has set. Captured in and around his small hometown of Malvern, Butler wandered the streets after dark searching for inspiration. The resulting sombre series of images winds its way around the town paying more attention to the location of branded illuminations and cashpoints than the feast of Victoriana that the town is known for. “Streetlights, often sodium based with a strong orange hue, cast a warming ethereal glow over their surroundings. Shadows formed by objects blocking the light create textures and patterns unseen during daylight hours. Other sources of white light from street furniture, phone boxes or illuminated signage become welcome markers in the sea of black, while coloured tones from traffic lights, retail displays or dazzling petrol station canopies enlarge the spectrum of highlights from purely orange, black and white. After a rainstorm, tarmac and pavements glisten, gilding the previously unremarkable ground with a seemingly crystalline sheen. Puddles and pools of water reflect anything aimed at them, creating a distorted reverse of reality. As dawn arrives the palate changes again as a deep navy blue slowly fills the sky, drawing the unlit shadowy areas out into the exposure. Streetlights start to extinguish one by one well before the sun has hit the horizon, and as a result, the mood alters and the small hours rapidly draw to a close.”