The Spectator on The Recent Past and James Ravilious: A Life: These two books complement each other: The Recent Past displays beautifully reproduced photographs by Ravilious, while his widow's biography is a moving tribute which details the technical as well as aesthetic side of his work. Other photographers have followed his style and methods, but he remains the master. Richard Emeny.
The Times: James Ravilious, the son of the artist Eric Ravilious, was a talented documentary photographer. His record of life in the north Devon of the 1970s is a tender, intimate portrait of a rapidly vanishing existence. From a gnarled tree to the last blacksmith of a line stretching back three generations, or the old timer to whose stories James would happily be trapped listening for hours, nearly every beautiful shot subject has a name and a story.
Telegraph: Elegiac, surrealistically clear and revelatory of a colossal and unsuspected talent. Cartier-Bresson came to salute Ravilious’s work for its quintessential Englishness. Each photograph has this poetry: the same anachronistic and luminous beauty that radiates…
The I.paper: Vivid scenes that seem to come from a bygone age...A unique record or rural intimacy. The Recent Past gathers together around 80 of his Devon photographs, and they portray a rural life with an intimacy that probably only someone who lived among the subjects of his pictures could achieve. James Raviliuos: A Life is a very fine biography by his widow, Robin Ravilious. LINK Simon O'Hagan.
Country Life: Ravilious succeeded triumphantly...he was able to record life there as it was, unposed and unselfconscious, capturing its sense of community, its humour, its hardships and eccentricities. The photography book is a glowing record of rural life in that place at that time. The biography is a moving book, lyrically written, a portrait of an artist and a marriage, but also a meditation on the creative impulse and the artistic temperament. Richard Hopton.
Caught by the River: James Ravilious’s The Recent Past is an intimate portrait of in North Devon in the 1970s and 80s. This selection of black and white images is the first of his work to be published in a book since 2000. It is introduced by his widow Robin, who beautifully describes his devotion to documenting his community.
Ravilious’s dedication and love for his subject are apparent throughout. He takes us into blizzards, snowdrifts, hunts, christenings and village fairs. However, the most intimate pictures are those of everyday rural life. His clever framing and beautiful use of light make these images of the mundane seem anything but. The Recent Past is both a historic document and an artistic triumph. Ravilious remains one of the UK’s most important rural photographers. LINK