Photographer Philip Butler traces the surviving iconic Odeon cinemas of the 1930s
Between 1928 and 1939, Oscar Deutsch wowed the British public with one of the most extraordinary estates of Streamline Moderne cinemas ever built – and he named them Odeons.
These alluring neon-clad beacons of escapism, glamour and affordable luxury came during a period of depression and rising international tensions. But faced with the challenge of a rapidly changing society, increasingly captivated by television and home entertainment, many of these huge structures have since struggled to survive.
Despite being recognised as architecturally important, countless former Odeons have long since met with the wrecking ball (one, most recently, in Manchester), whilst others continue to fight for survival.
As part of his ongoing project to document the surviving architecture of Britain’s inter-war years, photographer and writer Philip Butler has travelled the country to capture what remains of Deutsch’s groundbreaking empire in the 21st-century. From dazzling restorations to decaying shells, from sympathetic reconfigurations to careless alterations, his photographs highlight the varying fortunes of each building.
Now Butler has pulled together some of his images in a new book, Odeon Relics. An illuminating essay by architectural writer Jason Sayer introduces the book, looking into the birth of the Odeon empire and the creation of its iconic picture palaces. A selection of stunning period shots by legendary architectural photographer John Maltby is also featured to give a flavour of how these iconic buildings looked when new, providing a dramatic contrast to the weathered structures exhibited in Butler's contemporary images.
Funded via Kickstarter and self-published by Philip Butler, the book will be available from 27 October 2019, distributed by Art Data. Find out more: artdecomagpie.com.