London Diaries Part 7 - Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr at the Science Museum


© National Media Museum - Beachy Head boat trip, 1967 by Tony Ray-Jones

© National Media Museum - Beauty contestants, Southport, Merseyside, 1967 by Tony Ray-Jones

© National Media Museum - Blackpool, 1968 by Tony Ray-Jones

Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr at the Science Museum is by far my favourite exhibition during this trip to London. It was the second main reason I visited (after the Buster Keaton retrospective). 

The exhibition is on till 16th March 2014, if you are in London or travelling there before 16th March, do pay a visit. 

Fascinated by the eccentricities of English social customs, Tony Ray-Jones spent the latter half of the 1960s travelling across England, photographing what he saw as a disappearing way of life.

Humorous yet melancholy, these works had a profound influence on photographer Martin Parr, who has now made a new selection including over 50 previously unseen works from the National Media Museum's Ray-Jones archive.

Shown alongside The Non-Conformists, Parr's rarely seen work from the 1970s, this selection forms a major new exhibition which demonstrates the close relationships between the work of these two important photographers.

I am in awe of Tony Ray-Jones work. His notes, his methods, "Don't take boring pictures" is one of them - he and his photos showcase British eccentricism at its finest. He died in 1972 at the age of 30. Gone too soon, but his work and influence lives on. He clearly influenced Martin Parr.  

Here's an extract of one of his notes from the exhibition. 

US characteristics

Vision (as opposed to British experience)

Idealism (as opposed to British compromise)

Challenges (as opposed to precedents)

Innovation and Experimentation (as opposed to tradition and well trodden path)

Lack of Individuality

Naivety and Innocence (always surprised when people attack or produce new weapons or land a man on the moon)

Lack of knowledge of anything outside themselves

British characteristics and qualities

Love of tradition

Love of stability

Art of compromise and muddling through



Apathy and indolence (from the security of the welfare state)

A country lacking in drama yet the people have a fine sense of drama

Watch this video which has more information about the exhibition and includes more photos. 

Martin Parr's The Non-Conformists

© Martin Parr / Magnum Photos. Jaws queue – Halifax, West Yorkshire – 1977

© Martin Parr/ Magnum Photos. Mankinholes Methodist Chapel, Todmorden 1975

The video below is also from the exhibition. It features Martin Parr talking about Tony Ray-Jones. I strongly recommend you watch this.