Monday, 24 November 2008

Sundsvall, Sweden from the air (c) Rhys Jones, 2005

First post for a while, so I guess I must have been keeping my visual self to myself! This week I am giving a presentation to a local exporters association - the theme of the evening is Scandinavia. I'll be talking about my experiences of going on a Trade and Cultural Mission with the Swansea Business Centre  almost exactly 3 years ago in 2005. I made some good contacts and in August 2007 I had an exhibition of my work in Sundsvall City Hall. Sundsvall is in the Swedish Midlands about 3-4 hours north of Stockholm by train. Not sure who all the other speakers will be, but it is normally a good mix of people from the media, small enterprises and experts in exporting. In these times of 'credit crunch' it is even more difficult to export services and goods.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Walestonia Exhibition

Photographers, Annika Haas, Birgit Puve and Age Peterson (c) Rhys Jones October 2008

I went to the opening of an exhibition in Cardiff by three photographers from Estonia : Annika Haas, Birgit Puve and Age Peterson (pictured above). They have spent eight years documenting the people and landscapes of communities in a region called Prichudie around the western shore of Lake Peipus which divides Estonia and Russia. The ancestors of the current communities were refugees from Russia called 'Old Believers' who resisted reforms of the Patriarch Nikon in the Russian Orthodox Church after he came to power in 1654.
A very absorbing and interesting exhibition - it reminded me of the images taken by the American photographer Paul Strand when he documunted the communities of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland back in the 1950s.
I was interviewed by an Estonian TV Arts Programme OP! which aired on 21 October. It will eventually be placed in their archive so I hope to be able to share a link to the programme about their visit to Wales.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Horizons Exhibition

Poster Design (c) Jo Mazelis

If you can make it along to the Norwegian Church Arts Centre Cardiff, Wales 10-30 November 2008 you'll be able to view a collaborative exhibition that I'm involved with. I'm working with four other artists : Dan Staveley, Gemma Copp, Jonathan Powell and Ann Jordan to produce an exhibition on the theme of Horizons. 

On Saturday 29 November 12.30 - 15.30 there will be a private view with the artists and a performance by writers and poets Susan Richardson and Emily Hinshelwood - reading poems from their collections of works.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

If you can keep your head......

Market Stall Display : Calais, France August 2007 (c) Rhys Jones

.....when those around are losing theirs and meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.....words written in the 1930s by Rudyard Kipling. The last few weeks have shown that one can't take anything for granted. There's no easy answer as to how the world is going to recover from looks like an economic recession. Just an observation from me as someone who likes to keep things simple - if we concentrate on using just what we need and buying food from the locality in which we live and at the time of year that nature determines then we might put the brakes on food travelling 25,000 miles to get to our plate, lorries on the road day and night moving the food around , complicated cross-border currency transactions to pay for it and excessive profits being generated for multinational giant companies. We would perhaps return to supporting our local traders, only buying what we need. Less fuel is consumed, less vehicles could be on the road, less pollution could result and maybe over time it could really have an impact on global warming and also on our health.

Too simple ? maybe ? As an asthma sufferer I have certainly noticed a difference with less vehicles being on the road because people can't pay for the fuel and are also thinking about unnecessary journeys and alternative methods of transport.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Personality Types

Image - River Wylye, Stoford, Wiltshire (c) Rhys Jones 2008

My Swedish friend, Lina Kvist, has an interesting personality test on her blog 'Famous Last Words'

I used to teach some courses a few years ago where the Carl Jung -Isabel Myers-Briggs testing methodology was used to help determine the profile of students on the course.

If you want to have a go at the test you can do it here - but be as honest as you can otherwise the garbage-in garbage-out rule will apply and you won't get the most accurate assessment.

As with everything the results should be interpreted with a health-warning and ideallly should be reviewed with a trained professional but they do give an insight into the complexities of our personalities. As a photographer it can help get obtain good results to try and understand the personality of the subject as well as you can - and maybe the subject should have an insight into the personality of their photographer since it is a 50-50 partnership!

For the record my personality came out ENFJ -some anlaysis of that here

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Jane Bown - picking a good turnip

Image of Samuel Beckett outide the Royal Court Theatre, London, 1976 (c) Jane Bown

For me, the Observer photographer, Jane Bown, is the master of the black and white portrait. I love the story she tells of her tutor at the Guildford School of Art who told her that if she was going to photograph a turnip, then pick a good one. She picked some of the best. I still believe that black and white film excels for a portrait. I'm still experimenting with cameras, films and aperture settings.

I have a Nikon F100 35mm SLR film camera, a Nikon D70 digital SLR and a Hasselblad 500 medium format film camera. They are heavy, rugged and cumbersome - I like this type of camera that can be dropped on concrete and bounce back - they would not necessarily be the tools of choice for a street or documentary photographer, but I do practice these skills and hope I'm improving. It's the most difficult to walk around with a camera round your neck as if it was part of you. I'm not that good at sneaking around taking a shot of someone asleep on a bus but I do admire people who can do that. I do my best to make people relaxed and try and get them to be themselves and feel natural. I try and use 85-105mm lenses for portraits. Sometimes I take shots of people with a 300mm lens - this is less intrusive and people are more likely to be themselves if they don't feel a camera sticking in their face.

I think it is one of the delights of photography to experiment - there's no right or wrong answer. AA photogarph is 50% the skill of the photographer and 50% the way the subject is feeling. If the two elements combine well then a good result that will please both parties is more likely to result. Just make sure you pick a good turnip as the subject!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Edward Chambré Hardman

Image of Edward Chambré Hardman with Rolleiflex camera and trademark hat © Copyright The National Trust - All Rights Reserved

I have done some photography work for the National Trust since 2001. One of their recent acquisitions is the studio and house at 59 Rodney Street, Liverpool and the photographic archive of Edward Chambré Hardman, the Irish born photographer. When he died in 1988 his photographic studio and house contained his entire life’s work; photographs, business records, professional and personal correspondence, photographic equipment and personal belongings.

I haven't made a visit yet but I plan to go as soon as I can. It is such a rare thing to find the entire life's work of a photographer and one that has documented all aspects of life and the people of the city of Liverpool.

For opening arrangements please see the National Trust web site at Visitors are advised to book in advance by telephoning 0151 7096261, or by sending an SAE to The Custodian, 59 Rodney Street, Liverpool, L1 9EX (email

Attached is the link to the collection held by the National Trust photo library. I think I can afford to buy his hat but not his Rolleiflex camera!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

2 million steps

Photo : Lolita Ray - studio shot February 2003 (c) Rhys Jones

A friend from Sweden, Lolita Ray, has an interesting blog

She is making a 2,000 km walk from Stockholm through Sweden, Denmark and Northern Germany to Hamburg starting 1st October to raise awareness about climate issues. If you
can help her - follow the link to her blog and make contact. She is a talented musician and singer-songwriter and plays in two Swedish Bands Little Failures and Lill Britt Siv

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Clapham Junction Abstract

Image (c) Rhys Jones May 2007 - on a train at Clapham Junction

In reflective mood
Through a reflecting window
A cast off image
For the next pair of hands
Eye candy
Bin liner
Food for thought
A casual glance

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The great power down

Image : Electricity Pylons near Charles de Gaulle Airport, France (c) Rhys Jones 2008

I was thinking the other day how much energy is wasted and was wondering if it might be able to construct a global experiment to see how much the demand for electricity generation would change if people just took a day out from their computers, TVs, Games consoles and other electrical devices.

Electricity is of course essential for hospitals, emergency services and I am not advocating a global switch off for anything essential.

The power down could start on a Friday by switching off computers and lights in offices and homes and continue over the week-end by using electricity only for essential things. Have a week-end doing something else like talking to friends, seeing your family, going for a walk, go out and take photos, go and see live music or the arts, plenty of things to try.

How would one organise such a global happening - a Facebook group is one way but ironically this is one of the tools that keeps us using electricity! How would we measure such a happening ? The hope would be that once we see the effect on demand for a scarce resource we might then be tempted to lower our consumption all the time.

Anyway I'm ranting - but I'd be interested to hear the opinions of someone else.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Upcoming Exhibition : Unseen Light

Images (c) Jo Mazelis and Rhys Jones. Poster design by Jo Mazelis

A date for your diary if you are able to come to Wales. I'm having an exhibition of my work at Pontardawe Arts Centre, Herbert Street, Pontardawe, SA8 4ED. I am sharing the gallery with another Swansea photographer, Jo Mazelis. The theme of the event will be Unseen Light. The opening will be at 19.00 Friday December 12 - free admission with wine, soft drinks and snacks. The exhibition will then run until 10th January 2009. Hope you will be able to come along and we look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 8 September 2008

What can you see ?

This image was sent to me by a friend in Sweden, Jessica Lundgren. It was given to her by her grandmother. the image is over 100 years old. Drop me a response to let me know what you can see in the image.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Securing Loose Items

Images : Rhys Jones, August 2007
The best laid plans fall into disuse when something unexpected happens and I'm in that situation now. I had planned a summer of exciting projects but instead I've worked out what I'm calling a casserole pot - something which can be left on the heat to cook, picked up and put down as circumstances dictate. I'm trying to photograph places associated with known encounters with spirits and those places where I feel some power or force myself. St Pancras Station was one such place but I've recently been told that there is a spirit who lives backstage at the Pontardawe Theatre in Wales. St Donats Castle near Cardiff is also haunted and I have taken a lot of images inside and outside of the castle. If anyone would care to suggest any places that it would be interesting to photograph, please let me know.

Thursday, 12 June 2008


Image : Rhys Jones, February 2008

I've been interested by some of the thoughts of French philosopher Jacques Derrida without claiming to understand all of them. In particular his thoughts on secrecy. He describes how a writing desk (secretaire) can be used to lock away papers and then describes how a secretary (or assistant) can be employed to conceal things (his example is Phaedrus who concealed Lysias's speech under his cloak). A 'secretary' can by analogy with 'syllabary' also be an ichnography in which a trace (ichnos) can be collected written or described. At the bottom of traces are secrets.

"Form is a trace of the formless; it is the formless that produces form, not form the formless..." - Plotinus

I have this image in my head of the metal drawers of a filing cabinet containing papers and photographs which can be arranged and re-arranged and locked away. Traces of a person's life which contain secrets just waiting to be found.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Restaurant at the end of the Universe ?

Image : Rhys Jones, April 2008

I'm going through the difficult process of trying to select images and artwork for a group exhibition. The theme is 'Entrance and Exit'. My project involves an exploration through images and a short film of the subject of connectivity and connectedness through time and covers the difficult subject matter of re-incarnation and our journey through life until we get to the exit door that everyone has to face and here I am talking euphemistically about it! It's one of the most challenging things I've had to face artistically - there is no shortage of fine examples to draw upon but this has to be my own thoughts and inspiration. How do we explain life and what happens after death ? Is there any rational explanation ? if we do succeed in explaining something should we cease then to have any interest in it ?

I do like the notion of hitch-hiking through time and space - inspiration from Douglas Adams : comedy always reveals something more serious within..... I feel.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Did Batman live behind the scout hut ?

Image : Rhys Jones, Easter Saturday 2008 - Ashtead Common, Surrey

I used to walk across this common a lot - it was a short cut to the railway station and if you were like me and not good at getting up in the morning then a short cut or two was a necessity. A group of us used to have a 'tranny' and I can remember 'Wonderful Radio 1' being on all the time and T-Rex and the Detroit Emeralds ensuring our lack of popularity with other users of the path and Ashtead station. Great coats were very popular and we cultivated our 'Nick Drake lookalike' personas.

Until 2008 I don't recall ever stopping to take a photograph so I rectified that quickly. Somehow a photo taken by Rhys Jones in 2008 doesn't capture all the memories of the former teenage Rhys Jones in 1973 and the kids we knew, the drunk guy in a bowler hat who used to arrive at 'The Woodman' off the London train, even the guys who attacked me with a fluorescent light tube - but a photo can activate our memories and imagination : maybe Batman and Robin really did live there behind the Scout Hut after all!

So take a photo that means a lot to you and implant your imagination there!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Walking through Time

Image : Rhys Jones, December 2007 - The Cobb, Lyme Regis, Dorset

The period in between Christmas and New Year is a little bit of a no-man's land I always feel. Thoughts about the year past mingle with hopes and maybe some worries and dreams for the year ahead. A good time for a long walk with family and friends and there's no where better than the South West Coastal Path.

Saturday, 31 May 2008


Image : Rhys Jones, April 2007

A close encounter with a curious animal on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

Thursday, 29 May 2008


Image : Rhys Jones, March 2008

It is interesting what we all see in a photograph. Points of interest are different in everyone's mind. The point of interest or 'Punctum' as termed by Roland Barthes in 'Camera Lucida' is what he believes makes a photograph memorable or irritating.

What are we doing by taking a photograph ?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Brief Encounter

Image : Rhys Jones, February 2008

I think it is interesting to take photographs from outside a window looking in. It is not possible to be an intimate part of everyone's world and it is often the case that we just glimpse something for the briefest moment or take notice almost by accident.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Hay Festival again

Image : Rhys Jones - 'Over the Shoulder' taken at 2007 Hay Festival

Next week-end I'm going to the Hereford Photography lecture given by Don McCullin at the annual festival at Hay-on Wye. As way of preparation and to try and learn something, I've found the attached transcript of a BBC interview between the photographer and John Tusa.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

A St Pancras Feeling

Images : Rhys Jones, April 2008

I made a visit to St Pancras International station recently on a wet evening at the end of April. It has been a while since I was last there. A lot of building work and disturbance to the original structure of the station shed and the hotel has taken place with the arrival of the Eurostar terminal in November 2007. I was struck though by a sense of atmosphere in the older parts of the station. The new concourse was full of people buying gifts, pulling luggage, gathering children and making ready to board the 'trains de grande vitesse'. Set quite apart, cathedral-like and with a sense of the spiritual, were the hidden parts of the station structure - the magnificent roof, the solid iron-girders and the passage ways. In this quiet part of the station stands a brass statue of John Betjeman, the poet, writer and broadcaster who did much in the 1960s to bring about the preservation of the station when others were for pulling it down. Betjeman stands looking up at the roof with the same awe that one would give to any of the magnificent churches and buildings to be found in the city of London. That part of the station had 'a quiet walk in the City of London on a Sunday' feel. An atmophere anyway! The Paul Day brass sculpture 'The Meeting Place' stands in this part of the station. As Day says himself when interviewed by the BBC 'it needs to look like it was always meant to have been there'. For me, though, it doesnt. It feels out of place and not at all the place where people would want to meet. People meet a few floors underground at the moment and this statue cuts a very lonely appearance.

There are as many opinions about this piece of public art as there are days in the year. Maybe it needs to be visited again in a few months time.

A Monody

Image : Rhys Jones, April 2008

Monody on the Death of Aldersgate Street Station
John Betjeman (1906-1984)

Snow falls in the buffet of Aldersgate station,
Soot hangs in the tunnel in clouds of steam.
City of London! before the next desecration
Let your steepled forest of churches be my theme.

Sunday Silence! with every street a dead street,
Alley and courtyard empty and cobbled mews,
Till “ tingle tang “ the bell of St. Mildred's Bread Street
Summoned the sermon taster to high box pews,

And neighbouring towers and spirelets joined the ringing
With answering echoes from heavy commercial walls
Till all were drowned as the sailing clouds went singing
On the roaring flood of a twelve-voiced peal from Paul's.

Then would the years fall off and Thames run slowly;
Out into marshy meadow-land flowed the Fleet :
And the walled-in City of London, smelly and holy,
Had a tinkling mass house in every cavernous street.

The bells rang down and St. Michael Paternoster
Would take me into its darkness from College Hill,
Or Christ Church Newgate Street (with St. Leonard Foster)
Would be late for Mattins and ringing insistent still.

Last of the east wall sculpture, a cherub gazes
On broken arches, rosebay, bracken and dock,
Where once I heard the roll of the Prayer Book phrases
And the sumptuous tick of the old west gallery clock.
Snow falls in the buffet of Aldersgate station,
Toiling and doomed from Moorgate Street puffs the train,
For us of the steam and the gas-light, the lost generation,
The new white cliffs of the City are built in vain.