It was great to be able to spend a day with Paul Hill talking about his memories of working with and for Bill. Paul founded The Photographers Place – the UK’s first residential photography workshop – at his Peak District home where we filmed him outside the building known as the ‘Scout Hut’ where the workshops were held including one in which Bill was involved with. Paul has written two books, Approaching Photography and Dialogue with Photography and has had two monographs White Peak Dark Peak and Corridor of Uncertainty published. He has exhibited regularly since 1970 in the British Isles and internationally. Paul was the first art photographer to receive an MBE for services to photography and the first professor of photographic practice within a British university. Suffice to say his memories of Bill and his thoughts on Bill’s career will provide important insight to the film.
Every time we speak with someone about their memories of Bill we glean an insight into Bill’s relationship with photography and his life however small that may sometimes be. That was certainly the case after our conversation with Patrick Ward this morning, the twenty second interview we have conducted as part of our ongoing research.
We spent a wonderful morning with Daniel Meadows discussing the influence of Bill Jay on his work and career. Daniel was in the same class as Martin Parr at Manchester Polytechnic where Bill gave a talk in 1971 that influenced Daniel and Martin in the ways in which they viewed photography. Another great interview for the film, thanks Daniel!
We will be filming Daniel Meadows next Monday reflecting on Bill’s evangelical lecturing approach to photography that so inspired Daniel as a student in 1971 when Bill presented the work of photographers Benjamin Stone, Art Kane and Tony Ray Jones amongst others . Daniel was in the same lecture as Martin Parr and fellow Manchester Polytechnic student Brian Griffin.
A big thanks to Martin Parr (left) who let us into his home yesterday and allowed us to film him talking about the influence Bill Jay had on the early development of his work. Our conversation centered around a particular talk Bill gave at Manchester Polytechnic that Martin attended in the Autumn of 1971, whilst still a student and where Bill introduced Martin and his fellow students to the work of Tony Ray Jones.
Martin was supportive of our film and even made some suggestions as to where and how it might be first screened. Watch this space for more details concerning this!
A big thanks this week to Homer Sykes, Paddy Summerfield, Andrew Lanyon and Carol McCusker for sharing their memories of Bill. The support for the film is incredible and we have many conversations still to have over the coming weeks.
However, if you knew Bill or know someone who did please let us know, we are always open to more information and new leads.
A big thanks to iconic Magnum photographer and great friend of Bill Jay, David Hurn for devoting a whole day to helping us with the filming of Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay.
David welcomed us into his home and spoke to us about Bill’s life and work in great depth.
We are excited to announce the first film project from The United Nations of Photography and Cordial AV titled Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay will begin filming in the coming weeks. Bill Jay was a photographer, writer on and advocate of photography, curator, magazine and picture editor, lecturer, public speaker and mentor. He was the first editor of the immensely influential magazine Creative Camera in 1968 and the founder and editor of the equally influential Album magazine in 1970. He opened the first ever photography gallery in England. He is the author of more than 20 books on the history and criticism of photography, approximately 400 essays, lectures and articles and of the Lens Work magazine column EndNotes. His own photographs have been widely published, including a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Bill was a friend to iconic photographers such as W.Eugene Smith, Bill Brandt, Tony Ray Jones, Josef Kouldelka and Beaumont Newhall to name just a few but it was his friendship with Magnum photographer David Hurn that was his closest and most fruitful. Their book On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide was the starting point for many young photographers careers.
Bill Jay was a much loved, and at times controversial figure who said what he believed and in doing so inspired, influenced and helped forge the photographic environment in London at a time when at the beginning of the 1970s, British photography was changing more rapidly, than it had ever done before. The new photography, which emerged from the colour supplements and magazines such as Creative Camera and Album, laid the foundations for ‘independent photography’ and the photographic environment we know today.
Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay will feature exclusive interviews with many of the photographers who led the way in the UK and Europe through the late sixties, the seventies and the following decades, alongside Bill’s friends, students and colleagues. It will celebrate his writing, his teaching, his highs and his lows and explore the life of a man who never chose to take the easy option.
You can follow the progress of Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay by following the hashtag on Twitter #donotbendfilm or by following us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DoNotBendFILM