“There is only one famous person in the book,” says Chris Steele-Perkins of his photobook The Pleasure Principle. “It was a deliberate choice as I wanted the book to be about ‘ordinary’ people. The one exception is Margaret Thatcher as she defined Britain in the 80s in a way nobody else did. I could argue that while she is clearly center frame, the photograph is as much about the acolytes and her effect on them than it is about her. The photo was taken at the Conservative Party ball in Blackpool at the moment she made her entrance. I think I made a couple of frames before being pushed and elbowed aside by the mob of fans, press, and security.”
The Tate has recently acquired vintage prints of Steele-Perkins’ documentation of the English at play for its permanent collection (read Tate’s story here.). To mark the occasion, Steele-Perkins looks back at the work and discusses the images that, to this day, still capture his attention. To complete our time-capsule from the 1980s, the original introduction to the book, published in 1989, recalls the epoch-specific “public rituals we employ in the pursuit of happiness” from a hedonistic decade, and how the photographer navigated Britain from an almost outsider’s perspective. Continue reading.