Rebellious attitude, quirky images and cool music

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Girl sitting on the beach playing records Brighton Beach, 1967, by Tony Ray-Jones.

Next week our new photography exhibition opens at the Walker Art Gallery and I've been working on a new video to spread the word about the exhibition and help bring it to life. 

'Only In England' explores the influence of the British photographer Tony Ray-Jones on British photography and in particular how he inspired the work of Martin Parr.

“Don't take boring pictures” was one of Ray-Jones's key rules to follow for taking photographs, along with "Be more aggressive" and "Get in closer". He wrote a list of these ideas in his notebook and I think they really show the kind of person he must have been and what he wanted to bring out in his photographs.

Martin Parr was strongly influenced by Ray Jones's work and he took a series of photographs in Hebden Bridge, which he called 'The Nonconformists'. So he also seemed to be attracted to this idea of 'the outsider'.

Thinking about these almost rebellious attitudes of the photographers helped to bring together ideas for the video, to hopefully create an exciting  preview to the exhibition. I wanted to get this tough yet humorous feeling to come through and so I chose the song 'Louder Than You' by (now disbanded) Liverpool band Aeris Presley as the soundtrack.

Two ladies asleep in church Mankinholes Methodist Chapel, 1975, by Martin Parr from 'The Nonconformists'.

I thought the punk influence in the song was spot on to reflect the personalities of the photographers, but also that it might make an interesting and tongue-in-cheek contrast with some of the images. For example, an aggressive guitar sound accompanying the ladies falling asleep in church or the couple having a formal dinner in a field full of cows!

The photographers wanted to capture English ways of life that they felt were dying out. So I also thought the energy of the music would reflect this idea that a change was coming - whether the subjects liked or expected it or not. Little did they know that things like punk were on their way and would change English culture forever.

The track ends with the lyrics "....and I want the chance to say, that everything's gone my way, and want it to come true and I wanna be louder than you."

I like to think that Tony Ray-Jones might have approved of this sentiment!

The 'Only in England' exhibition opens on Friday 13 February at the Walker Art Gallery.

Watch the video