Monday, November 24

Tony Ray-Jones and the white cliffs of Bournemouth... PART ONE

I wonder if anyone can provide the location of this rather splendid Tony Ray-Jones photo – it’s captioned as “Bournemouth, 1969” in Russell Roberts’ Tony-Ray Jones anthology (2004). I know the area quite well and am struggling to think of anywhere that could reasonably be described as Bournemouth that overlooks these distinctive white cliffs.

It's possible that it was taken in a different part of the country altogether. In Ian Walker’s interesting essay on Tony Ray-Jones’s Tripper Boat picture in Source magazine (issue 40, autumn 2004) he describes how much of Ray-Jones’s work was wrongly captioned after his death:

“painstaking research by Ruth Kitchin at the NMPFT [National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford, UK] has shown that much of the captioning in A Day Off is wildly wrong; of the first fifty pictures in the book, only thirteen are correctly captioned, a success rate that seems almost wilfully low.”

In fact the Tripper Boat picture that Walker examines in detail in Source magazine was incorrectly captioned “Scarborough” in A Day Off – scrutiny of the contacts reveals that the location was Beachy Head, as the unmistakable Eastbourne Pier appears in the sequence.

I don’t own copies of A Day Off (1974) or Richard Ehrlich’s Ray-Jones book (1990) to chart the progress of all the captions (you’ll be relieved to hear), but many have been corrected as we come to Russell Roberts’ Tony-Ray Jones’ anthology in 2004.

Possibly the above photo has slipped through the net. Are these cliffs Beachy Head? The Isle of Wight? Somewhere else? Answers on a postcard...


tjh said...

Looks like the now somewhat neglected garden by Alum Chime. If you walk down the beach from the pier towards poole its about 30-40 minutes.

Might be completely wrong however?

Paul Russell said...

Hi there

Yes, I remember there's a couple of gardens round there, including Alum Chime tropical gardens.

But I don't think you could see cliffs like that from there. If you were looking eastwards (towards Bournemouth Pier) there are no cliffs that would be that visible that promimently. If you were looking eastwards, there are are cliffs that end in Harry's Rock, but they would be running in the opposite direction to that shown in the photo, if you see what I mean...

I also could be wrong! I'm quite interested to find out now, either way. Either the caption is completely wrong; or if it is near Bournemouth it would be interesting to see what the view looks like today.