Saturday, November 29

Urban exploration with Will Self

After walking from his house in central London to Heathrow Airport, author Will Self boarded a plane to New York. Once in New York, he continued his walk from Kennedy Airport to his hotel. I enjoyed this quote:

"People don’t know where they are anymore ... In the post-industrial age, this is the only form of real exploration left. Anyone can go and see the Ituri pygmy, but how many people have walked all the way from the airport to the city?"

Source: New York Times

Monday, November 24

Tony Ray-Jones and the white cliffs of Bournemouth... PART ONE

I wonder if anyone can provide the location of this rather splendid Tony Ray-Jones photo – it’s captioned as “Bournemouth, 1969” in Russell Roberts’ Tony-Ray Jones anthology (2004). I know the area quite well and am struggling to think of anywhere that could reasonably be described as Bournemouth that overlooks these distinctive white cliffs.

It's possible that it was taken in a different part of the country altogether. In Ian Walker’s interesting essay on Tony Ray-Jones’s Tripper Boat picture in Source magazine (issue 40, autumn 2004) he describes how much of Ray-Jones’s work was wrongly captioned after his death:

“painstaking research by Ruth Kitchin at the NMPFT [National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford, UK] has shown that much of the captioning in A Day Off is wildly wrong; of the first fifty pictures in the book, only thirteen are correctly captioned, a success rate that seems almost wilfully low.”

In fact the Tripper Boat picture that Walker examines in detail in Source magazine was incorrectly captioned “Scarborough” in A Day Off – scrutiny of the contacts reveals that the location was Beachy Head, as the unmistakable Eastbourne Pier appears in the sequence.

I don’t own copies of A Day Off (1974) or Richard Ehrlich’s Ray-Jones book (1990) to chart the progress of all the captions (you’ll be relieved to hear), but many have been corrected as we come to Russell Roberts’ Tony-Ray Jones’ anthology in 2004.

Possibly the above photo has slipped through the net. Are these cliffs Beachy Head? The Isle of Wight? Somewhere else? Answers on a postcard...