The North by renowned photographer John Bulmer
Canwood Gallery International Summer Exhibitions, Checkley, Near Hereford, HR1 4NF
5 – 29 June 2018
Tuesday to Sunday 11am – 4pm. Free entry
An exhibition by the internationally renowned photojournalist John Bulmer opens today (Tuesday 5 June) in an art gallery nestled in the heart of rural Herefordshire.
Famous for pioneering the use of colour photography in journalism in the 1960s, John Bulmer’s The North exhibition documents life in the cities of northern England, capturing the bleak and the beautiful in equal measure.
The work of John Bulmer, who grew up in Herefordshire and is the great grandson of the Bulmers cider founder, will be shown alongside that of his own wife Angela Conner, who was an apprentice to Barbara Hepworth, and whose sculpture Rocking Lady is on permanent loan to the gallery’s sculpture park. Another outdoor sculpture by Angela Conner, Revelation, which was commissioned for Chatsworth House, has just been gifted to the gallery by the Duke of Devonshire. The couple still lives in Herefordshire.
Many of the photographs on show were originally commissioned for the Sunday Times magazine in 1965 following the launch of the first-ever colour supplement.
Until this point, ‘the North’ as it was broadly labelled, had only ever been captured in black and white. The established feeling was that the industrial landscape of mills, chimneys and cobbles could only be conveyed in monochrome. John challenged this view, taking colour images that offered a unique combination of industrial landscape, domestic life and characterful people.
The images have recently been on show at London’s Somerset House in an exhibition exploring contemporary artistic and stylistic representations of the north of England. They are also the subject of a best-selling photography book The North, published in 2012. The exhibition and book contain both colour and black and white images, representing John’s view that both are equally valid, depending on subject and circumstance.
Speaking ahead of the exhibition opening, John said:
“It is a great honour to have my work exhibited here in my home county. I started my photography career here, working with a local press photographer, and I was introduced to the Canwood Gallery by my wife Angela, whose sculptures are displayed here.
“It is wonderful that a gallery of such national and international standing has opened here in Herefordshire. Stephen’s journey of artistic discovery may now be many years ago, but there are still a great many people living in rural areas who for various reasons don’t have the chance to travel to major cities – so the Canwood Gallery brings seminal works to our doorstep. It is humbling to have my work exhibited alongside them.”
Diagnosed with advanced leukaemia in his 30s and advised that his chances of survival were low, Herefordshire farmer Stephen Dale was accepted on an experimental treatment programme at Barts Hospital. It was on one of his earliest visits to the capital that he decided to go and see Carl Andre’s contentious artwork Equivalent V111 at the Tate in 1976, better known by its nickname the ‘Bricks’, which had been the subject of great debate and controversy. This was his first visit to an art gallery and proved to be a pivotal moment.
He visited art exhibitions on every subsequent trip for treatment, and when he survived the trial, and saw 11 others sadly didn’t, he vowed to set up a gallery in his native county so that other local people may be inspired by exceptional art. Upon his retirement, Stephen sold most of his land and invested the proceeds into creating a beautiful gallery and sculpture park in converted old farm buildings where he still lives.
Speaking ahead of The North exhibition opening, Stephen said:
“To be able to exhibit works of real cultural significance, such as John’s seminal photographs of the north of England, here in Herefordshire is a real pride and joy for me.
“Art has played such a pivotal role in my life and once I finally finished my farming career I have loved throwing all my energy into creating a place that can show truly remarkable works of art here in rural England. To be able to show fellow Herefordshire man John Bulmer’s work, which marked the start of a sea-change in both photo journalism and attitudes to ‘the north,’ is another great privilege.”
Both of John Bulmer’s books The North and Wind of Change will be on sale together with limited edition prints, at the exhibition which runs from 5 to 29 June 2018.
John Bulmer appeared in recent BBC documentary Britain in focus – a photographic history discussing the images on display in the The North exhibition, which can be seen here
Canwood Gallery www.canwoodgallery.com