Silloth 2010

Ten years ago today – 22nd August 2010– I was standing on the Cumbrian coast at Silloth, my first visit to an area that I had previously known from the photographs of Raymond Moore (1920 – 1987) who had moved there in 1978 and spent the last years of his life there.

Ray was one of the first real photographers who looked seriously at my work – at a workshop at Paul Hill’s the Photographers’ Place in Bradbourne, Derbyshire, where I went to a series of three weekend workshops with him, and Paul Hill in 1977-8. He very much set me working in a far more disciplined way, investigating the areas which really interested and involved me rather than simply making pictures.

And of course I was highly impressed by his work and attitudes toward it. So much that there are a few pictures that I took in those years and a little after that are perhaps too clearly me trying to make a ‘Ray Moore’, though never really successfully. But over time I think I managed to integrate a little of his influence more successfully into my own work. I met him a few times in later years – and was able to send him some of my published work – but was shocked at his early death, and regret greatly that I never took up his invitation to visit him in Cumbria.

I wrote a piece about my experiences in those workshops for William Bishop’s Inscape magazine around 2000, under the title ‘Darbis Murmury‘ and ten years later put the text online with rather more pictures from them.

Raymond Moore was one of the first UK photographers to achieve wider cultural acclaim, with a major retrospective at London’s Hayward Gallery in 1981 – I think then the only photographer to be honoured in this way since Bill Brandt in 1970 (though that came there from MoMA in New York.) Since his death his work has largely disappeared from view (in part for legal reasons) and he had been forgotten. There are no dealers with his prints to push and maintain interest in his work. I gave a presentation on his work (and that of Tony Ray Jones) at Bielsko-Biala in 2005, but had to use the reproductions of his pictures without permission. My text there – which you can still download – ended:

The British photographic establishment seemed by the time of his death to regard him as an unfortunate and rather embarrassing episode that was best brushed under the carpet. Many photographers who knew him or have come across his work in the few slim volumes, myself included, still regard as a major figure in photography.

Ten years ago I was on holiday with friends, and the pictures that I took that day are more an illustration of that day out than a serious attempt at photography.

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4 Responses to “Silloth 2010”

  1. ChrisL says:

    “Murmurs at Every Turn “ is one of my very favourite inspirational photobooks.

  2. Absolutely agree. It and ‘Every So Often’.

    Both rather expensive secondhand now. For some reason the paperback version of ‘Murmurs’ was simply called ‘Photographs by Raymond Moore’.

  3. ChrisL says:

    It is a mystery, especially as in the softback version I own Page 6 the ISBN and copyright notice, lists it as:
    Moore, Raymond Murmurs at every turn with the ISBN for both Hard and Soft covers beneath.

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