John Gay


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  • John Gay

    1. 1. JOHN GAY 1909-1999 Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and that no contrivance on Earth can bring back again. Not even photography can bring these things back, he said, except in the memory of those who knew them, or in the imaginations of those who did not. What do you think?
    2. 2. High Street, Badminton, Avon 1952
    3. 3. Henry Hugh Arthur Fitzroy Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort , on a horse and surrounded by hound dogs as they pass through a gate at his seat, Badminton House
    4. 4. Two white-coated judges look at caged birds in a marquee at the Royal Show, Bristol 1958
    5. 5. 1958
    6. 6. Born Hans Ludwig Gohler in the German town of Karlsruhe.  He came to England in 1935 on a student visa, HE STUDIED WATERCOLOUR PAINTING IN LONDON
    7. 7. In a 1936 article entitled "But One True Viewpoint" Gay defines his approach using four principles. First, "spacious views do not give photography its full scope; it scores in careful and minute details." Second, light and shadow add interest to a picture, and a carefully-chosen focus point guides the viewer's eye. Third, the angle and viewpoint can create an interesting contrast between perspective, proportion and form, Fourth, an original and unusual perspective makes an image arresting.
    8. 8. Gay profiled the entirety of the English way of life, warts and all: people and places; town and country; cats and dogs.
    9. 9. The images are not falsely contrived, not desiccated set-piece studio shots; rather, Gay's camera captures naturally occurring moments. He is a species of photojournalist who is also an artist, his painter's training revealed in his photographs.
    10. 10. These photographs are meticulously composed, but not contrived—witnesses to an England both changing and immutable, to imaginative whimsy and to the solid world. The detail in all the photographs is extraordinary and compelling: each image demands at least an hour's study, because it is a silent social record of a moment in England's past. --Alexander J Betts
    11. 11. This photograph of a tramp may be less spontaneous than it appears at first glance. The fire at which he warms his hands is not lit, suggesting that the picture is posed.
    12. 12. “He made such imaginative photographs and managed to catch the mood beautifully. He and John Betjeman were friends, and they shared a fascination with people as well as architecture and landscapes. John [Gay] managed to catch people in unusual poses, or landscapes with a bit of mist or snow. He was a European intellectual, but foremost an artist.” John Murray
    13. 13. A portrait of John Gay taken by his wife, Marie, in 1959. He is using the format of camera he favoured for much of his career, a Rolleiflex Automat. A viewfinder in the top allowed a picture to be composed and focused discreetly, and created a square 2.5"x2.5" negative. A practical man, he converted his roofrack into a mobile photographic platform.
    15. 15. Andrew Sargent, said: "John was photographing at a time of huge change. He captured a way of life that simply does not exist any more. Landscapes and town centres are different, and so are the British people - the picture of a man in the sea at Blackpool still wearing his outdoor clothes looks peculiar now, but that is what people did in the 1940s
    16. 16. His photographs capture people going about their everyday lives and they are special because he was looking at Britain through foreign eyes. He saw it all in a very fresh sort of way because this was his adopted country.
    18. 18. John was heavily involved in the conservation of Highgate Cemetery, publishing Highgate Cemetery: Victorian Valhalla with Felix Barker in1984. This sleeping lion guards the tomb of George Wombwell (died 1850) who was famous for his menagerie of exotic animals.
    19. 19. He was also drawn to details, such as this cast iron terminal on a grave. The drift of cow parsley would also have pleased him, as his conservation philosophy was that the cemetery should look natural rather than park-like.
    20. 20. Although an acclaimed photographer in his day, Gay's work fell out of fashion. On his death in 1999, he left an archive of 40,000 black and white images to English Heritage.
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