Explore some weird and wonderful views of the British coast with this selection of photographs from the Tony Ray-Jones Archive.
Many of us will have been looking forward to a holiday this summer, only for Covid-19 to throw a spanner in the works. As an alternative to a beach getaway, we dug up some weird and wonderful photos of seaside life in the 1960s, captured by eclectic street photographer Tony Ray-Jones (1941–72). Images of the seaside are prevalent among Ray-Jones’ English photographs. He was less interested in landscapes than he was in people watching, his close-yet-unobtrusive style and eye for detail allowing him to find quirkiness in the mundane.
Ray-Jones spent his short but prolific career in the 1960s and early 1970s travelling around the UK, US, and other countries to document various customs, celebrations, and cultural scenes. The National Science and Media Museum is privileged to be the custodian of the Tony Ray-Jones Archive, which contains the photographer’s life’s work, including negatives, contact sheets, cameras, notebooks and other ephemera. The archive is currently being catalogued to item level and is available for researchers to consult.
Several of the images featured in this post were published in Ray-Jones’ posthumous book, A Day Off: An English Journal (1974) and were exhibited in our 2014 exhibition Only in England.