There was a very specific reason for heading to the Science Museum in South Kensington on this occasion; there are a handful of photographic exhibitions that I’m intending to see in London in the coming weeks, and not least amongst them was ‘Only in England’, featuring the work of the late Tony Ray-Jones (1942-1971) and Martin Parr (b. 1952), which is currently showing in the Media Space at the Science Museum.
It cost me eight quid to get in, but it was money well-spent; there was a particular fascination for me in Tony Ray-Jones’ images taken in English seaside towns in the late Sixties, unique and wry observations of the English at leisure in a bygone age.
I’ve been revisiting ‘High Windows’ of late, Philip Larkin’s 1974 final volume of poetry. The first poem in that book, ‘To the Sea’ (completed in October 1969), seems to me to be a perfect literary accompaniment to Tony Ray-Jones’ English seaside pictures taken almost half a century ago.
The taking of photographs wasn’t allowed in the ‘Only in England’ exhibition space, so here’s another, more comtemporary, example of English quirkiness, taken in Exhibition Road on my way to the Science Museum on Saturday afternoon. I’m not altogether sure what that tuba-like brass instrument is, but, whatever, it breathed fire, as a photo I took outside the National Gallery early the following evening shows ;).