Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr

Martin Parr's breakthrough work, the Non Conformists, is shown alongside the Tony Ray-Jones photographs that inspired it.

In 1970, Martin Parr, a student at Manchester Polytechnic, was introduced to the work of Tony Ray-Jones. For the aspiring young photographer the impact was long-lasting; the images, humorous yet traced with melancholy, were completely unlike anything else being produced at the time and he would later claim Ray-Jones to be the major inspiration behind his career.

Parr was not the only one to recognise Ray-Jones' unique ability for documenting English customs and identity. Having attracted the attention of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Ray-Jones exhibited at the venue in 1969. Sadly he died just a few years later aged 30, yet his short career had a profound influence on the development of British photography.

Within two years of Ray-Jones' death, Parr began working on a project directly inspired by him. Fascinated by the variety of non-conformist chapels he encountered in rural Yorkshire, he shot a series of work, entitled The Non-Conformists, in Hebden Bridge and the surrounding Calder Valley. 

These early black and white images have previously only ever been exhibited in Hebden Bridge itself and at the Camerawork Gallery for a brief spell in 1981. Here, shown alongside works from the Tony Ray-Jones archive, there are clear parallels between the project and the photographs that inspired it. 

A Magnum photographer, Parr has garnered international acclaim and also works as a filmmaker, collector and curator. Discussing the exhibition he says, "Tony Ray-Jones' pictures were about England. They had that contrast, that seedy eccentricity, but they showed it in a very subtle way. "They have an ambiguity, a visual anarchy. They showed me what was possible."

Don't miss

The display includes a series of Ray-Jones' photographs which have never previously been printed. Martin Parr was invited to select these new works from the 2700 contact sheets and negatives in the National Media Museum's archive.


Venue details

National Media Museum Bradford West Yorkshire BD1 1NQ 0844 856 3797 www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk

Entry details

Free entry to all
Free exhibitions to all

Daily, 10am – 6pm

Closed 25 Dec