One of the cool things about my new job is that I get to spend a lot of time scouring the internet for information about upcoming exhibitions and arts festivals across the UK. Which is sort of an extension of what I do in my spare time anyway. It also means that I'm constantly left wanting to hop on a train to visit some great sounding exhibition in Dundee or Nottingham or Sunderland or Blackpool, and yes, sometimes even London. I hear about new artists and photographers and come across cute little videos or bigger, more serious articles with increasing speed and they all buzz around my head. New tabs grow and spread across my browser faster than an October cold and so in the end it's quite a good job that I have a blog to regurgitate it all into.
As a fan of Martin Parr's eponymous beach-scenes and the familiar black and white snapshots of Bill Owens's suburbia, Tony Ray-Jones's photographs appeal to that same interest in documenting the people of a country or a culture. That style of documenting; like the technicoloured Manhattan captured by Joel Meyerowitz, is now very, very familiar. But like Martin Parr, much of Ray-Jones's work captures something intrinsically British, or at least the sort of 'bygone Britishness' which can be so appealing as a slice of photographic nostalgia. Large ladies on beaches, old geezers in tweed flatcaps and waistcoats, queues at bus stops. People who don't look like the people on the street today; a less diverse crowd maybe, and then people who do; universal images of teenagers touching each others bums or bellies, and small children with skinny legs pushing toy prams.
Given the parallels between their work, it's not surprising that Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr have been paired together in an upcoming exhibition at the National Media Museum in the new year. (That's how I heard of Tony Ray-Jones in the first place; amidst all that cultural calendar hawking.) Bradford, I'm popping you on the list.