Rebellious attitude, quirky images and cool music

4 February 2015 by Lisa

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


  1. Baz N. says:

    The exhibitions that the Walker Art Gallery puts on are always fascinating. It has long been my favourite gallery. The various diaplays over the years have always been worth visiting and I spend many an hour here looking and learning and seeing life through the eyes of others.

    This photo exhibition will be no exception. I look forward to seeing it.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for your comments Baz! We’re looking forward to this one too – let us know what you thought of the exhibition if you do come along.

  2. Aida Birch says:

    Sorry I can’t make the exhibition, but I love reading all about it and the video. I wish you all a great success, well deserving

  3. Baz N says:

    The Tony Ray-Jones exhibition was every bit as good as I thought it would be. An excellent record of life in the late sixties. He certainly had an eye to capture something very interesting out of everyday mundanity. It’s great to see so many wonderful photographs all in one place. A collection of British life from Brighton to Yorkshire. This is a must see exhibition. Can I also add that it’s such a sad end to the personal story of the photographer himself, Tony Ray-Jones. I can only imagine he would have gone on to become one of the all time greats of British photography.

    Thankyou to the Walker Art Gallery for yet another great exhibition. I look forward to my next visit.


    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for your comments Baz, glad that you enjoyed the exhibition so much. We think this is going to be a really popular exhibition – we expect that visitors will be able to see their own lives or memories in the photos, as well as enjoying the humour, creativity and skill of the photographers.

(Comments are closed for this post.)

About our blog

Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.




We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.