Published on January 28, 2014 | by Aylin Elci0
Exhibition review: Only in England
Only in England, an exhibition displaying black and white photos from LCC alumnus Tony Ray-Jones and Magnum member Martin Parr, is the first major show to take place at the newly-opened Media Space in the Science Museum.
This exhibition introduces Ray-Jones, who died at the age of 30 from leukaemia, and his many unseen photos to a wider audience, while giving a visual explanation of Parr’s photographic path.
In the first section of this three-part exhibition, Ray-Jones’ incredibly well-layered and carefully composed photos of English events and poignant scenes trigger a roller coaster of emotions which definitely leave the viewer moved.
The photos, taken in the second half of the 1960s, capture very natural and tender moments, as if the photographer was invisible to the subject.
The second part of the exhibition features a project by Parr called The Non-Conformists. Parr, who cited Ray-Jones as a major influence, shot the photographs in the mid-1970s.
The surprising pictures document everyday life of Methodist church members in the town of Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, and demand the viewer forgets everything know previously about the photographer’s usually colourful, garish, intrusive and ironic images.
The images are soft, calm and subtle. The intimate relationship Parr had with his subjects – whom he sometimes befriended – during the five year project is touching. Clearly, this section of the exhibition shows a very different side of Parr and is a visual break for the viewer after Ray-Jones’ highly contrasted photos.
Although the photographers never met, the strong connection between them is confirmed in the third part of the exhibition, which features exclusive images of Ray-Jones selected by Parr himself.
The exhibition mixes humour, melancholy and narrative. It refreshes the memories of Ray-Jones and, thanks to him, the viewer also clearly understands the roots of Parr’s body of work.
Only in England is at the Science Museum, London, SW7 2DD, until March 16, 2014. Adults £8, concessions £5.
To see Martin Parr’s work visit: www.martinparr.com