Monday, June 7

Tony Ray-Jones and the white-ish cliffs of Bournemouth, part 3.

For those that followed my rambling voyages of partial discovery regarding this Tony Ray-Jones picture from 1969 ...

Bournemouth, 1969, Tony Ray-Jones

... I have come across a postcard on the Real Bournemouth web site from 1948 that puts the scene in context (click photos for larger images). The red spot is my estimate for where Tony Ray-Jones took the photo 21 years later. Although there is no path visible here in the 1948 photo, the diagonal rising wall and cliffs look right.

Bournemouth postcard, 1948

As I suspected (eventually), Ray-Jones was facing eastwards in the direction of Bournemouth Pier when he took the photo. Maybe the red spot should be further down, but I’m puzzled by what the white blocky things are below my red spot – they seem to be almost as big as the two benches further down, and hence bigger than anything visible in Ray-Jones’s photo... Or maybe they were removed and Ray-Jones was on the path clearly visible below them in the photo... Any thoughts? Am I going crazy?

My initial confusion about the image stemmed from the fact that I thought the cliffs in Ray-Jones's photo looked huge and distant, which doesn't tie in with any view I know in Bournemouth. Instead, it seems that the cliffs in the background in the image are quite close, and are now covered in vegetation or degraded. Either way, they are not visible now. A shame – I think the white/orange cliffs are more dramatic than the vegetation that covers most of the present-day cliffs.

To confuse matters further, the garden was replanted in the mid 1990s and an area of the gardens in the region of where I think Tony Ray-Jones took the photo was completely re-paved to form a round-ish viewing platform.

The blue spot in the old postcard marks the approximate spot where I took the photograph (BELOW) last year. Having now come across the 1948 postcard, I will try to take a photo closer to the spot where Ray-Jones was standing.

Update February 2014: Looking at this post again, and I've changed my mind - I think my photo below is pretty close to where Tony Ray-Jones was standing. The only really constant feature is the strong diagonal wall. The position of the bench with the wall arching behind it is a reference point, and is clearly visible in mine and peeping out behind vegetation in the Ray-Jones (it is not the same bench though - that has been replaced). Looking at Ray-Jones' photo and mine below at 100% I can match up some of the more distinctive shaped rocks that form the top of this wall to the right of the bench exactly. Bingo.

Bournemouth, 2009. Paul Russell photo: the same spot but the white cliffs have gone - the soft sandstone probably degraded. The garden has been replanted. The diagonal wall sloping upwards to the right, and arching over the bench, is the main constant reference point.

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