Photography Collection: Peter Bloomfield

The photographer behind early iconic images of the Barbican

Construction of Arts Centre: Interior by Peter BloomfieldBarbican Centre

Peter Bloomfield

Photographer Peter Bloomfield was commissioned by Henry Wrong - the first Managing Director of the Barbican Centre - to photograph the final stages of the arts centre’s construction up to its opening in 1982.

Moving in Trees into the Conservatory. (1980) by Peter BloomfieldBarbican Centre

Building the Brutal

The photographs form the Building the Brutal photography collection, which you can find out more about here.

Photograph of Barbican Bomb Site Overlooking RailwayBarbican Centre

Peter Bloomfield

As a schoolboy Peter Bloomfield used to ride his bicycle round the bombsites of the City of London during the Second World War. As he rode around, he would take note of the names of the destroyed streets.

Photograph of Construction of the Barbican CentreBarbican Centre

It was good preparation for photographing the emergence of the Barbican Centre and Estate from the rubble decades later.

The Barbican Centre (1979-11-22/1979-11-22) by Peter BloomfieldBarbican Centre

Bloomfield started off taking pictures of the Barbican site using an old-fashioned looking camera, made by the Gandolfi company.

Camera used by Teenie Harris (mid 20th century) by Graflex Inc., 1887 - 1973Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

It meant putting a black cloth over his head as he took the photographs, to stop light getting in and ruining the images.

The Barbican Centre (1980-03-08/1980-03-08) by Peter BloomfieldBarbican Centre

Later he switched his camera to a more portable Sinar Monorail.

Photographic Contact Sheet of Arts Centre Interiors. (1979) by Peter BloomfieldBarbican Centre

It was still bulky by the standards of modern digital equipment, and still involved carrying around a tripod and film.

Reflection of Barbican Centre in Lakeside (1979/1979) by Peter BloomfieldBarbican Centre

To better capture the scale and details of the evolving site, Bloomfield also moved  from 5 x 4-inch film to 6 x 7, the largest available at the time.

The Barbican Centre (1980-03-12/1980-03-12) by Peter BloomfieldBarbican Centre

Peter Bloomfield’s images of the Barbican site were rediscovered in 2016, and published as a book titled Building the Brutal.

Barbican Foyer, Peter Bloomfield, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre, Peter Bloomfield, 1980-02-21/1980-02-21, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre, Peter Bloomfield, 1979-12-09/1979-12-09, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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Barbican Hall Sound Desk (1982) by Peter BloomfieldBarbican Centre

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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