The V&A : Three-in-One : Into the Woods


The New Sackler Extension Courtyard and Cafe

On Friday last week I spent the afternoon at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. I managed to fit in two small and one blockbuster exhibitions. I was meeting my friend Julie to see the Ocean Liners: Speed and Style major exhibition. (Julie and I have booked a cruise next year – more details later.) But I arrived a couple of hours ahead of time because I wanted to see the photographic exhibition : Into the Woods. I discovered on arrival that Folio Books are 70 years old and there was an engaging small display on an upper floor which extended into the National Art Library Reading Room.

Continue reading


Only in England : Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr

Intro Poster

Later this month I’ll be assisting Dovegreyreader (alias Lynne) at the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall. Any posts I may do about events may be on here or maybe over at Lynne’s blog.

M Parr 1976

One of Lynne’s guests will be the photographer Martin Parr. For many years I have been intrigued by Parr’s photos. We had lots of his titles in my library so I would often have a look and wonder to myself – Is this a put up job? Or are the subjects unaware that they are having their picture taken?

MP book

Parr Book

 A Couple of Parr’s books in the Museum Shop : sandals are the theme of the day

Until Lynne gave me the nod I was unaware that Parr was involved in an exhibition locally: Only in England : Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr. It was showing at the National Media Museum in Bradford until the end of June. Bradford is but a few miles away so the other Saturday afternoon I took a trip over there to see what the exhibition was all about.

I found that the two galleries of the exhibition were complementary to each other exploring the relationships between Tony Ray-Jones (1941-72) and Martin Parr (b.1952). Parr was invited by the Curator of Photographs, Greg Hobson, to study the Ray-Jones archive (acquired by the Museum in 1993) and help bring together a collection for display alongside early work of Parr’s centred on the local Calder Valley between 1975 and 1979 when he himself lived in Hebden Bridge. “The Non-Conformists” was his first major body of work.

Non-Con Book

Ray-Jones spent the latter half of the 1960s travelling around England photographing what he thought of as fast-disappearing way of life. He also spent half a year travelling in the USA but sadly Tony Ray-Jones died in 1972, aged 30, of leukaemia.

“Ray-Jones was interested in the eccentricities of human behaviour, which for him embodied the English personality. He approached his project like an anthropologist, thoroughly researching his methods, locations and subjects. The resulting photographs are remarkable. Characterised by wry humour, they are nonetheless full of melancholy and lament the disappearing cultures that influenced Ray-Jones’s own emotional and artistic development. The England that Ray-Jones photographed is very different to the England of today.” [Information board at the exhibition]

“Ray-Jones’s photographs of the English seaside were a powerful influence on Martin Parr. He was fascinated by Ray-Jones’s ability to see the quirky and absurd in the everyday.” [Information board at the exhibition]

Impressions of north

Impressions of the north

I liked reading his notebooks and inspecting other memorabilia on display.

R-J's notes

Ray-Jones’s notes

Books to read

Books to Read

Road to Wigan Pier

His well-thumbed The Road to Wigan Pier

Martin Parr’s selection were based on his collection The Non-Conformists taken in Hebden Bridge and the surrounding area in 1975 when he and his wife moved to live in the town. He focussed on the chapels and their declining congregations and the changing way of life. Being in black-and-white, like Ray-Jones’s, this gives his pictures an old-fashioned, dated, sad, shabby and gloomy feel. It’s grim up north, you know.

I’ve just chosen two photographs – one from Parr and one from Ray-Jones – that both made me smile.


Love this Ray-Jones Tea Scene taken at Weymouth in 1967

Last Cuppa

 And I call this one The Last Cuppa (Parr)

A fellow WordPress blogger took much better notes and has written more extensively about the exhibition here.

The Year in Pictures : 366 – The Great Leap Forward

Around the beginning of November last year I received an invitation from a German lady who has since become (I suppose you would say) an online friend of mine.

My first 366 photo – 10 November 2011 : River Swale, Hudswell, Richmond, Yorkshire

We first ‘met’ through the Flickr Landmark Trust Group and we found that we share a mutual love of Lyme Regis. Anyway, she sent me an invitation to join her ‘group’ called “366 – The Great Leap Forward“. The idea, which I had never heard of before, was to take one photograph every day for a whole year. Normally this would be for 365 days but as 2012 is a leap year we had to take 366 pictures!

Queen Breaca introduces the group thus :

Is taking pictures your passion? Do you like exchanging your views on photography, cameras, picture editing as well as Life, the Universe and all the Rest with other, like-minded people? And have you recently considered joining one of those flickr – 365 projects, but were a little put off by all those very strict rules and regulations? 

Well, to be honest, the answer for me to all of these questions was “no”. However, flattered to receive an invitation and with great trepidation, I decided to accept the invitation and challenge. Indeed, challenge it was! Some days went by when I had to just snap something, anything. Personally, I don’t think I improved a lot over the year but QB, flatteringly again, declared that I had. I looked on the challenge as an opportunity to record every day of one year and I’m interested in it more for that reason than as an opportunity to take artistic photographs. Look at my set and you’ll see what I mean.

And what a year it has been for me – and also for the UK. Here are a few highlights (or lowlights) :

Not long after I joined our cat Harvey died (16 Nov 2011) ‘Sad Day’

Our Christmas Tree 2011

My 60th Birthday

A wonderful trip to France to stay at The Windsor’s former weekend home near Paris

Revisiting Northern Ireland after 45 years!

Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee

A fantastic walking holiday in Alsace

At the end of June I retired from my Library job

A lovely few days in Geneva in July

The successful London 2012 Olympic Games (the Brownlee Brothers are from Horsforth) in August

We spent three weeks in New England in September

A week in Devon in October

And a couple of fun pictures

The End – 9 November 2012

It’s a relief to have completed the challenge successfully. It’s been a great experience and thanks to QB for her invitation and encouraging input!