Michael Ormerod was born in Cheshire in 1947. He lived in Newcastle but spent many years travelling in America. Fascinated by the American image, and following in the footsteps of Robert Frank, Ormerod took to the American West to find a washed-out dream of capitalism.
His images capture a strange juxtaposition of an American beauty tainted by a hidden sense of menace and corruption. The works also show humour – a giant fake dinosaur looms in the distance of a desert landscape, a stuffed moose head is displayed in the window of a diner. The subjects of the work are unconventional, surreal and sometimes mundane, but create an atmosphere of an eerie backwater America.
His photographs are those of the outsider, constantly travelling through a no-man’s-land. A sense of pessimism pervades, showing how the commercial boom of the 1950s has collapsed, leaving deserted streets, rubbish dumps and alienation. It is a land where the American Dream has turned sour.
Ormerod’s book, States of America, was published shortly after he died in 1991. The body of work marked an exhibition held at the Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London. Since then, only one major exhibition of his work has taken place in Sheffield, in 2003.
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