A new exhibition and book will mark the important contribution that Tony Ray-Jones (1941 – 1972) and his legacy, have made to British documentary photography.
The exhibition and book will focus on photographs taken between 1966 – 1969 as Ray-Jones, driven by curiosity, travelled across the country to document English social customs and what he saw as a disappearing way of life. This small but distinctive body of photographs was part of an evolutionary shift in British photography, placing artistic vision above commercial success. In this short period of time, Ray-Jones managed to establish an individual personal style. He constructed complex images against a uniquely English backdrop, where the spaces between the components of the image were as important as the main subject matter itself.
Ray-Jones’ skills were gleaned from a generation of street photographers he encountered whilst living in New York in the mid-1960s. These photographers included Garry Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz and others associated with the circle of legendary Harpers Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch. Their pictures defined the era as they used the street as a framework. Ray-Jones applied this new way of seeing to his native England and photographed his observations as they had never been seen before.
In 2012, Martin Parr alongside curator Greg Hobson, revisited Ray-Jones' contact sheets from this period and found previously unseen images. These new discoveries will be exhibited and published alongside iconic early images, including vintage prints from the Martin Parr Foundation collection.
“Tony Ray -Jones was one of my initial inspirations as a photographer. His imagery showed me what was possible in shooting my own country. In 2012 I went through his contact sheets and found previously unseen images. These all contributed to a show the Media Space in 2013 where his iconic early images were shown alongside these new discoveries. There has not been a book of Tony Ray-Jones's work in print for many years, so this new publication, from Martin Parr Foundation and RRB Photobooks will correct this oversight and the accompanying show will give us a chance to enjoy this important photographer's immense contribution to British documentary photography.”