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Trevor Clark’s images capture the joy of the package holiday

by Staff

The British package holiday is a national institution much like baked beans and uncontrollable politeness. Photographer Trevor Clark was there to capture the heyday of this new wave of ‘foreign travel’ and his images have been brought together in a new book published by Hoxton Mini Press as part of their Vintage Britain series.

Just before the boom in tourism, Clark had moved to Mallorca in 1968 to set up a commercial studio having previously been based in London. He was therefore perfectly placed to document the new hotels that were popping up as package holidays grew in popularity, and his images appeared in a legion of brochures for the likes of Thomas Cook and Skytours.

All images: The Package Holiday: 1968-1985, compiled by Jake Clark, published by Hoxton Mini Press; © Jake Clark

Previously, seaside holidays were about as exotic as it got for most Brits in the early 70s, but when tour operators began offering holidays for almost less than the cost of a standard return flight, the sun, sea and sangria were hard to resist, with over a third of all British tourists holidaying in Spain by 1972.

Slick with tanning oil and cocktails in hand, Clark captures guests sunning themselves on loungers, taking part in aquacise classes, enjoying the hotel entertainment at night, and walking around the local markets. There’s a nostalgia to Clark’s images, not just through the clothes and interiors but also the fact they’re from a pre-social media age, with not a camera phone in sight.

Shot on a Hasselblad medium format camera, Clark used Ektachrome film for his images which is suited to flash-free use. Processing was also simpler and cheaper, and this allowed Clark to not be too precious with the technology and instead let his subjects relax uninterrupted.

The photographer’s images capture the joy, excitement and magic of travelling abroad for the first time. Of course, the all-you-can-eat buffets of everything with chips don’t celebrate the real beauty and culture of Spain, but package holidays did offer a new and different kind of escape.

Clark died in 2018, and his son, Jake Clark, is behind bringing together the thousands of transparencies the photographer had amassed. After first discovering his father’s archive in the 1990s, this body of work has gone on to inspire Jake’s own work as an artist and lecturer.

“I am not sure my father totally understood my fascination with his photographs of package holidays,” he writes in the book’s opening pages. “For me they act as a link to my childhood in Mallorca – my brother and I are in some of them, posing around a pool or on a beach…. They are a way of connecting with him, both as his son and as an artist.”

The Package Holiday: 1968—1985, compiled by Jake Clark and published by Hoxton Mini Press is out now; hoxtonminipress.com

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