Only in England
Only in England

Only in England

25 February - 7 May 2017

Moments in time captured through the lens of acclaimed British photographer Tony Ray-Jones are to go on show at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle next month.

Only in England,
opening on 25th February 2017, draws on material from the Tony Ray-Jones archive held at the National Media Museum, which will be shown alongside The Non-Conformists, a major body of work by photographer Martin Parr, himself greatly influenced by Ray-Jones’ portfolio.

Tony Ray-Jones created the majority of his distinctive black and white images of the British at work and play between the years 1966 – 1969. Traversing the UK with his camera for company, he immortalized people from all walks of life, catching them in unguarded moments. This exhibition, touring from the Science Museum, encapsulates a wide selection of his work - from the Durham Miners’ Gala in the North of England to lovers canoodling in public on a south coast beach - which best illustrates the humour, eccentricity and pathos of his pronounced and individual style, which led to him creating images quite unlike anything else produced at that time.

Born in Somerset in 1941, Ray-Jones studied graphic design at the London School of Printing and in 1961, on the strength of his photography portfolio, won a design scholarship to study at Yale University in Connecticut. Taking a year out from his studies to work in New York, he attended classes run by the influential art director of Harper’s Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch, before returning to Yale where he graduated in the summer of ’64.

On returning to England he spent the latter half of the ‘60s travelling the country, chronicling what he viewed as a fast disappearing way of life.

His works had a profound influence on photographer Martin Parr, who chose works from the Ray-Jones archive for this exhibition. Born in Surrey, Parr, an internationally renowned photographer, film maker and curator, graduated from Manchester Polytechnic before moving to West Yorkshire. The final section of this exhibition features The Non-Conformists, his rarely seen black and white images from the 1970s. Produced in Hebden Bridge between 1974 - 79, the pictures stemmed from Parr’s fascination with the variety of non-conformist chapels and the surrounding communities, evidencing the influence of Ray-Jones’ approach and photographic style, and highlighting the close relationships between the work of two important photographers from the 20th century.

Diagnosed with leukaemia in early 1972, Tony Ray-Jones died, aged 30, in March of that year, leaving a lasting legacy which has continued to influence and inform future generations.

A series of talks by academics and curators in the field of photography, developed in conjunction with the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture at Durham University, will accompany the exhibition.  


 Notes to editors:

·         The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 

·         The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum, receives support from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport through the Arts Council England’s Renaissance programme.  Additional revenue funding specifically for the Museum’s acclaimed exhibition programme is provided by The John Ellerman Foundation and The Friends of The Bowes Museum.

·         The Bowes Museum has recently undergone major redevelopment. This work was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The   Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.

·         Normal admission to the Museum: Adults £10.50, Concessions £9.50, Students £6.00, Six Month Pass £16.00, Carers and children Free (under 16s).  Admission allows access to exhibitions, permanent displays and some events. Admissions are donation inclusive and are eligible for Gift Aid. If you do not wish to make a charitable donation or are not a UK taxpayer admission prices are: Adults £9.25, Concessions £8.50, Six Month Pass £14.00, Children (under 16) and carers free.

·         The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 0191 301 8531,


Exhibition Organised and Toured by:


Categories: News

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.