It’s an unlikely sight in the midst of a festival field or outside an art gallery or on a busy city street. But there it sits – seemingly dropped in from the 1960s, what was once a British holiday-makers delight and the backbone of the thrifty post-war ‘stay-cation’ – a surprisingly small, plain, towable caravan, neatly painted the colour of slightly burnt custard and flanked by foldable garden chairs, a garden parasol and the odd gnome or two. But its contents are very much at odds with its outward appearance; for this is The Caravan Gallery, a mobile photography exhibition, housing Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale’s refreshingly honest view of Britain. Documenting their travels across the country, Jan and Chris’ probing lenses capture a very individual portrait of this quirky nation. Theirs is the Britain of boarded-up shop fronts, outraged handwritten signage, ill-conceived public art and discarded bags of chips on the promenade. They throw into focus the desperate optimism of a fairground ride in the rain and the eternal allure of a gleaming tea urn. Badly fitting beachwear, failed attempts at jolly garden-features and damningly sarcastic graffiti all find their place on the gallery wall. And yet, despite the apparent bleak irony on display, Jan and Chris’ work is underpinned by a non-judgemental respect for whatever they encounter. What we see is a Britain struggling and striving to make the best of its lot. Amid the concrete buildings and grey skies which feature in so much of the work, there are many smiling, laughing faces muddling through. Every time I take a tour of the gallery with Jan to see what new curiosities they’ve found on their travels, what’s evident from her gentle, pressing tone as she enthusiastically points out yet another picture of a bizarre hanging basket, is an endless sense of wonder at the peculiarities of people and their constant ability to surprise. Sad or joyous or angry or ironic, The Caravan Gallery is a quietly candid reminder of the breadth of the world we live in. Oh, and they love apple crumble.

The Caravan Gallery website

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