Mark Wilkinson, photographer, and Anne Wagstaff, writer, have together created an exhibition of photographs and stories recording the remarkable characters currently living in Tunbridge Wells. All those chosen to take part have a story to tell. The exhibition, to take place from March 16th 2018 to 9th September at Woods, on the Pantiles, will include 40 individual portraits together with a brief description of why or how they have come to do what they do. The exhibition will be accompanied by a book of the images together with the text, available for purchase.
The exhibition and book sale proceeds will raise funds for local charity Fegans, a children’s counselling service.
Mark drew on a boot fair find for his initial inspiration. The cover of a 1966 Sunday Times magazine showed two people looking out of a red telephone box under the heading Portrait of a Village. This coincided with Anne unearthing an etching showing The Remarkable Characters who were at Tunbridge Wells in 1748. This illustration of the Georgian Pantiles includes the notable writer and lexicographer Dr Johnson, Leader of the Government, Mr Pitt, Thomas Loggan, the artist, and the renowned celebrity bigamist Miss Chudleigh, amongst others, and is included in the collection of the British Museum. Tunbridge Wells at this time had a reputation for pleasure, leisure and scandal. This illustration provided the catalyst to Mark and Anne to seek out the Remarkable Characters amongst the current residents of Tunbridge Wells and record them in both words and images.
Our characters have been asked to take part because they have a story to tell. Tunbridge Wells has a rich underbelly of fascinating people. A few are introduced below.
o Roy Cross, painter of artwork used on Airfix kits from the 1960s.
o Maxine Hallett, recovered heroin addict and now Parenting Group facilitator with the charity Fegans.
o Isaac Holman, one half of Mercury award nominees punk duo Slaves.
o Harry Barden, spoken word performance poet.
o Louise Jameson, actress and director, including Leela, Dr Who’s assistant.
o Roger Pedrick, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition mouth painter following Brands Hatch motor racing accident left him paralysed.
o Errol Fuller, artist and writer, principally on extinct creatures. Collaborator with David Attenborough.
o Jazz Alexander, organiser of Tunbridge Wells’ recent first ever Gay Pride parade.
o Pauline Stroud, actress with Diana Dors in 1951 film Lady Godiva Rides Again.
Exhibition and Publication
Woods Restaurant premises appears on the 1748 image of the Pantiles above and will host our exhibition 40 portraits and stories from March 2018. Our chosen charity Fegans will benefit from donations and proceeds of the accompanying book.
Mark Wilkinson is a successful, and highly regarded photographer. The blurb for his recently published Ilex Print book reads, ‘Mark is an exceptionally talented self-taught photographer who delights in taking portraits in simple settings and extracting every last ounce of colour, texture and, crucially, natural light. Mark prides himself on working with an entry level Canon SLR, and a variety of lenses, though mainly a standard 50mm f1.8 lens. His personal photographic journey started when he was bought the wonderful Olympus Trip for his 12th birthday.’