Peter Mitchell’s follow up to the sell-out Strangely Familiar is an autobiography told through inanimate objects silently observed by scarecrows. Some Thing means Everything to Somebody boldly marks the passing of time by weaving images of these surreal totems in the landscape amongst those of objects with sentimental value.
The combination of personal belongings with scarecrows highlights the quirky and eccentric view Peter has shown throughout his work – the humdrum and mundane becomes weird and wonderful, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. This is a document of both the literal and the allegorical: blank scarecrow faces in empty landscapes with muted skies connect to a bleak pastoral sensibility, while horded things map out Peter’s life chronologically. He says: “Scarecrows have always been a feature of my childhood...I’ve purposefully chosen ones that have no face on them because I didn’t want people to laugh at them but imagine them as people... I’ve paired them with the objects that I’ve got which are my own scruffy little objects - treasured objects I’ve had since I was little. I chose them because I use them everyday. Everyday objects with the figure of Everyman.” The book employs hand-made fonts combined with narratives purposefully jangling and rattling the viewer along with this eclectic panoply of possessions. Peter, a child of the Airfix generation, recorded this vibrant collection of scarecrows over 40 years and presents this array as an autobiography.
Peter Mitchell (1943) is a British photographer who has documented Leeds and the surrounding area for more than 40 years. His work is an essential part of the colour documentary scene of the 1970s and ‘80s, with his show A New Refutation of the Space Viking 4 Mission at Impressions gallery considered a landmark by his contemporaries in colour photography. His first monograph, Strangely Familiar (Nazraeli Press, 2013) was one of the fastest selling photobooks of that year, and selected as one of the best photobooks of 2013 by Colin Pantall and by Gordon MacDonald. In 1990 Peter Mitchell also published Memento Mori, a documentation of the Quarry Hill flats, Leeds.
“Peter Mitchell’s new book is one hundred per cent quirky. It’s an autobiography where the seven ages of Mitchell’s life are personified through scarecrows, history and the collected ephemera of his 72 years. All aboard for the Roach Motel!” - Colin Pantall
“Mitchell breathes life into the idea that vitality can be endowed through intention.” - John Phelan
“Some Thing Means Everything to Somebody is my very favorite book of the year.“ - Christopher J. Johnson
“There are too few Peter Mitchell books out there and this charming ode to history and possessions shows why there should be more.” - Jeffrey Ladd
“Some Thing means Everything to Somebody is an exciting concept, amusingly and thoughtfully contextualized, and beautifully presented in this enchanting book.” - Jesse Alexander
“It’s a gem of a book, and it even comes with a little print.” - Mark Power
“Mitchell has made a truly unusual, multi-layered book. It is such an art to be able to create a work so amusing, autobiographical and affecting.” - Thomas Wiegand
“What an expansive, magical place it is where Peter Mitchell and his friends live.” - Karen Jenkins