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James Ravilious: A Life and The Recent Past

James Ravilious Photography

CCB is excited to host ‘Recording Country Lives with Robin Ravilious’ on Thursday 30th November. She will be showing slides and talking about individual images and the engaging and gifted man behind the camera, James Ravilious. To find out more about this event, please visit our Events page.

On 2nd November, Wilmington Square an imprint of Bitter Lemon Press published two keenly-awaited books about Devon photographer, James Ravilious. James Ravilious: A Life is a beautiful biography and memoir written by Robin Ravilious about her husband, his work and their life together:

James Ravilious: A Life Front Cover

James Ravilious: A Life | Robin Ravilious

James Ravilious moved to Dolton in 1972 after marrying Robin, who is a North Devon girl. The son of celebrated watercolour painter and Official War Artist, Eric Ravilious, James too had trained and worked as an artist and art teacher. When the couple met in London in 1969, James had recently taken up photography, inspired by the great French photographer, Cartier-Bresson.

Robin introduced him to the countryside he came to love. In the early 1970s North Devon was still very traditional in places: there were old cob farms without electricity, and farmers using crafts and methods that had changed little since before the War.

The Beaford Arts Centre had seen the significance of this landscape as one of the last examples of the English rural tradition, and had set up the Beaford Archive to record it for posterity before it was modernised. James worked on the Archive for over seventeen years, taking 79,000 negatives of the landscape and its people, at work and at play, with the honesty and warmth which distinguishes his work.

Robin has also written the introduction to The Recent Past, a new production of a selection of his Devon photographs.

The Recent Past Front Cover

The Recent Past | James Ravilious

North Devon clung to its traditional life for longer than many other parts of Britain and James’ photographs, captured as recently as the 1970s and 1980s, capture a way of life that is vanishing, or has vanished.

James’ photography exhibits a locality and intimacy rare among photographers. By not straying far from his home, James established close relationships with his subjects and nearly everyone in this book is named.

His artistry and empathy, and the breadth of photos taken of rural Devon, are excellently curated in this book and it contains some of the greatest photographs ever taken of rural life in Britain.

Order from us to get your own copies of these greatly-anticipated books.