Only in England

25 Feb — 5 May 2017 at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, United Kingdom

22 FEBRUARY 2017
- Tony Ray-Jones, Knights of the Green, Southampton, 1965. Courtesy of National Media Museum collection
- Tony Ray-Jones, Knights of the Green, Southampton, 1965. Courtesy of National Media Museum collection

Moments in time captured through the lens of acclaimed British photographer Tony Ray-Jones are to go on show at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle next month.

Only in England, opening on 25th February 2017, draws on material from the Tony Ray-Jones archive held at the National Media Museum, which will be shown alongside The Non-Conformists, a major body of work by photographer Martin Parr, himself greatly influenced by Ray-Jones’ portfolio.

Tony Ray-Jones created the majority of his distinctive black and white images of the British at work and play between the years 1966 – 1969. Traversing the UK with his camera for company, he immortalized people from all walks of life, catching them in unguarded moments. This exhibition, touring from the Science Museum, encapsulates a wide selection of his work - from the Durham Miners’ Gala in the North of England to lovers canoodling in public on a south coast beach - which best illustrates the humour, eccentricity and pathos of his pronounced and individual style, which led to him creating images quite unlike anything else produced at that time.

Born in Somerset in 1941, Ray-Jones studied graphic design at the London School of Printing and in 1961, on the strength of his photography portfolio, won a design scholarship to study at Yale University in Connecticut. Taking a year out from his studies to work in New York, he attended classes run by the influential art director of Harper’s Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch, before returning to Yale where he graduated in the summer of ’64.

On returning to England he spent the latter half of the ‘60s travelling the country, chronicling what he viewed as a fast disappearing way of life.

His works had a profound influence on photographer Martin Parr, who chose works from the Ray-Jones archive for this exhibition. Born in Surrey, Parr, an internationally renowned photographer, film maker and curator, graduated from Manchester Polytechnic before moving to West Yorkshire. The final section of this exhibition features The Non-Conformists, his rarely seen black and white images from the 1970s. Produced in Hebden Bridge between 1974 - 79, the pictures stemmed from Parr’s fascination with the variety of non-conformist chapels and the surrounding communities, evidencing the influence of Ray-Jones’ approach and photographic style, and highlighting the close relationships between the work of two important photographers from the 20th century.

Diagnosed with leukaemia in early 1972, Tony Ray-Jones died, aged 30, in March of that year, leaving a lasting legacy which has continued to influence and inform future generations.

A series of talks by academics and curators in the field of photography, developed in conjunction with the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture at Durham University, will accompany the exhibition.