There’s nowt queer as folk, as the saying goes, and that’s definitely true in England, the spiritual home of the eccentric. The work of photographers Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr shows a masterful skill at documenting the idiosyncratic British public, and selected images from the pair have been combined for the laugh-out-loud exhibition Only in England at the Media Space in London’s Science Museum.
Parr was still a Manchester Poly student in 1970 when he was introduced to the work of Ray-Jones, who was to die from leukaemia two years later aged 30. Despite operating for a relatively short time, the Somerset man’s portfolio had a big impact on Parr and the wider photographic community, and his influence can be seen in the younger artist’s early work such as that from The Non-Conformists series of the 1970s, which features in this show. The combined collection features over 100 Ray-Jones images held by the National Media Museum, including nearly 60 that have never been exhibited before, selected by Parr from 2700 archive shots. Full of oddballs, seaside sauce and what Parr describes as “seedy eccentricity”, Only in England runs until 16 March.