The art of photography remains so fascinating because of the individuals who arrive from unexpected places and take the medium through a lifetime of changes. The career of Colin Jones has a startling trajectory. He was born in 1936, in time to be a war child, a father away as a soldier, and attended 13 different schools. An element of chance, as well as talent, led to a scholarship at the Royal Ballet School.

The moment that defined Jones's later life occurred as he was driving with fellow-dancers from Newcastle to Sunderland one day in 1961. Travelling north of Birmingham and seeing the winding gear of coalmines had always excited Jones, who was steeped in the books of George Orwell, but now he saw the extraordinary drama of spoil-heaps swarming with coal searchers - an epic of reality and survival.
Jones became one of the most celebrated and prolific photographers of post-war Britain. Over the course of his photographic career, he documented facets of social history as diverse as the vanishing industrial working lives of the Northeast (Grafters), Afro-Caribbean youth in London (The Black House), and the high-octane hedonism of Swinging London with his famous pictures of The Who early in their career.
His work has been published widely in major photographic publications, including Life and National Geographic, as well as in many supplements for the world-leading broadsheets. He has had solo exhibitions at various international institutions including the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and at The Photographers Gallery in London. His work is held in the permanent collection of London's National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, amongst others. 

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our great friend Colin Jones.

Colin was the most wonderful man and a superb photographer. He was always interested in other peoples lives and from the beginning of his career, he made so many friends through his photographs. Colin always printed every picture himself and was in his darkroom only weeks before his passing. I will miss his visits to the gallery and our conversations so much – and it will be sad not to see his joyful face any longer. I met Colin in 1991 and his work became our very first show at the gallery, so our long partnership history has very sadly come to an end. I will never forget Colin’s generosity and his compassion for his fellow man.

May he rest in peace.

- Michael Hoppen, September 23rd 2021

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