Category Archives: News

Out on the Road

Tony Griffiths and Joanne Clarke travelled north, to Hexham, to photograph the acoustic guitar and mandolin maker, Stefan Sobell.  Stefan is one of those magicians who produce musical instruments of superb quality whilst making it look easy, which it certainly isn’t.  There are samples of photographs from that shoot below.

Dr John Clarke was amongst the group who went to photograph Marv at Muddy Fingers potters.  There, Marv makes unique items for high-end restaurants and Michelin-Starred chefs.

Dr John Clarke at Marv the potters

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Also posted in Behind the Scenes

Up Running

For the past month, we have been exhibiting some of our portrait panels at the Witham Gallery in Barnard Castle.  Fortunate indeed to have been given the chance to open at this modern gallery, recently refurbished with many facilities that make viewing any exhibition a pleasure.  This is the first of our touring exhibition, and from the reception we have had, it would seem to have been a great success.  There are several photographs below showing the exhibition and some of the visitors.

Here is how we were introduced at the Witham Gallery:

“Craftspeople of the North East is an uplifting and optimistic welcome to 2017. This exhibition of contemporary photography features portraits of eminent craftspeople from the North East of England, and has been put together by a group photographers from the Durham region who have made it their mission to photograph local people who have made an impact, in whatever way, upon life in the North East. In the case of this exhibition the photographers have focused their lenses on the talents of regional craftspeople.”

There are other venues where we will be exhibiting: in March we will be at Seaham Town Hall.  Washington Arts Centre has committed to exhibit our full collection throughout July and into the first week in August.

For future venues we are meeting representatives of Durham University at their Ushaw College site soon and then members of Sunderland’s Museum and Winter Garden for a chance to display there.  There are other venues in our sights so, please consult the website for further venues.

website the Lunn family panel at Witham Website the Witham Website Tony Griffiths and Heather Griffiths at Witham website visitors to the Witham #2 website visitors to the Witham

The year of the Crafts People

It seems hardly any time since we packed away the 100 Portraits of those significant people in the region and now we are half way through a project to record craftspeople in the North East. Not only is the photography going well but we already have venues interested in exhibiting our new photographs.
We started slowly with a couple of crafts men: James Mason laying a hedge and Joe McElwee working at his wood turning. With the visit to Stephen Lunn and his daughter Ashlee at their 300 year old smithy we had a sense of where the project might go and what we needed to photograph, so that we could best convey the sense of each craft. This would be a departure for us as we would need to produce a portrait but also capture the work practices and the end products of each crafts person.
After those tentative early days we photographed a wide range of activities including the restorative work of Harrison and Harrison (the Durham Company that rebuilds and restores organs). Whilst there, our two photographers were fortunate to witness the finishing of the massive pipe system that lies at the heart of the famous King’s College Cambridge organ.
Amongst other crafts we discovered a Corn Dolly weaver; a craft more readily associated with East Anglia. Travelling further afield we photographed wood carvers and bespoke furniture makers even a small company in Northumberland that hand makes the finest artist pastels. We were, and still are, welcomed everywhere we went. The two photographers who visited Hardy’s of Alnwick (makers of top fishing equipment) spent several hours being shown every aspect of the building of fishing reels and bamboo fly rods.
As with our portraits project, we have been able to witness the work of fine crafts people, producing the most amazing items. As with our previous Portraits Project we have tried to use only natural light which, being confined to the crafts person’s work place has often meant low light and difficult shooting angles. Each challenge has only pushed our photographers to produce better work.

Portraits from the North East still up and running

After a successful month at the Blyth Arts and Leisure Centre and then a further month at Sunderland’s Museum, Arts and Winter Garden we have arrived at our fifth venue.  On Friday, 15th January last Brian Blake and I, with the able assistance of Kate from the Museum and George (her boss), assembled the Portraits from the North East’s exhibition of 100 notable people in the entrance hall of THE Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle.  It should be there until Sunday 31st January.  Not that this is the final venue, far from it!  We have a promise of Ushaw College (Durham University) for later in the year and are still hoping for a venue in Gateshead.

Bowes Museum is a magnificent building and every element, from the façade to the monumental staircase to the various displays, marks it out as one of the great museums of the country and one of the many jewels in the crown of the North East, (

Our exhibition is to the left as you enter the building.  To gauge what is looks like and how it arranged please see the illustrations below.

For all those concerned with the project, no matter how you were involved, a big “thumbs-up” from the man who helped put together the highly successful YSL exhibition and many others.   Oh, by the way, we did float the idea that we could well have other exhibitions of a similar high quality in the not too distant future and they, too, might need a venue.  That suggestion was positively received.

As for those exhibitions; we have the core of the Veterans’ of World War Two ready, having been displayed at St. Nicholas’ Cathedral in Newcastle.  We are, however, continuing to photograph veterans to provide a more definitive collection.

Throughout 2016 we will be recording the activities of various crafts people who live and work in the North East.  Already, we have nearly two dozen volunteers.  More of these two projects in the weeks and months to come.

Portraits from the North East photograph WW2 veterans

In a new venture, members of the Portraits from the North East group are photographing World War Two veterans who live in the region.

On 7th November this year, the Royal British Legion will be holding its annual Service of Remembrance in Newcastle Cathedral. As part of that service, we will be mounting an exhibition of portraits of the veterans

More about the Story so Far is on the About page here

 Pictured: Roy Elwood FRPS, a veteran of the Russia convoys, with PftnE’s John Clarke on location

   Roy Elwood, RN Russian convoys, with PftNE's John Clarke

PftNE Exhibition Moves to St Nicholas Cathedral

Following the success of the Portraits from the North East show at The Alnwick Garden, the exhibition moves to St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle and will run from 18th May to 15th June

More about St Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle is here

Pictured: St Nicholas Cathedral and the exhibition

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More From … PftNE Exhibition, The Alnwick Garden

Last chance to see this gratifyingly well received exhibition at The Alnwick Garden in the light and airy Pavilion Room with magnificent views of the world famous fountains – the last day is this Thursday 14th May from where it moves to Newcastle Cathedral

More about The Alnwick Garden is here

Pictured: scenes from the opening event

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News: Portraits from the North East Exhibition – 1st Pictures

A large gathering of PftNE subjects, guests and PftNE photographers were at The Alnwick Garden on Tuesday 5th May for the first Portraits from the North East Exhibition.

In his welcome on behalf of PftNE Dr John Clarke thanked our sponsors Dr Tony Trapp and Ken Whyte for their generosity which paid for the printing of the exhibition, our amazing subjects who were welcoming and more than generous with their time, their long-suffering secretaries and PAs who were extremely helpful and the staff of The Alnwick Garden. Dr Clarke also expressed gratitude to the Duchess of Northumberland who was sufficiently impressed by the idea of the project, not only to sit for us, but to encourage us and to make the very generous offer of an opening in this beautiful setting.

 The exhibition was duly opened by the Duchess of Northumberland. It is fair to say that the work on display was well received by the enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

The exhibition is in the Pavilion Room of The Alnwick Garden and is on until Thursday 14th May.

More about The Alnwick Garden, “The World’s most extraordinary garden”, is here

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Exhibition News: Portraits from the North East opens at The Alnwick Garden

After eighteen months and 15000 photographs, reduced to a manageable 300, the PftNE team of fourteen photographers are pleased and proud to announce that the first exhibition of over 100 Portraits from the North East opens in the Pavilion Room at The Alnwick Garden from 2.00 p.m. on Tuesday 5th May and continues until Thursday 14th May.

The Duchess of Northumberland will declare the exhibition open at 11.30 a.m. on the 5th during a private opening event. If you would like more information please contact John Cogan directly or via the Contact page here

More about the remarkable individuals in the exhibition is in The Story so Far on the About page here

Opening hours at The Alnwick Garden are from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. daily.

Pictured: The Duchess of Northumberland and PftNE’s John Cogan ARPS at The Alnwick Garden

                  John Cogan in conversation with the Duchess of Northumberland.


News: Newcastle Journal Features Portraits from the North East

“Photographic project captures the North East rich tapestry of talent”

… that’s the headline of an article by Sam Wonfor which appeared in the Culture section of the Journal

Sam interviewed John Cogan of Portraits from the North East and tells the remarkable story of the first year of the project, ahead of the first exhibition in May

For Sam’s article and a gallery of PftNE pictures Click here

Pictured: Brendan Healy (shivering for comic effect), Tom Capeling, Julie Ferry with Lord Barnard

  Brendan Healy shivering for comic effect Lord Barnard with Julie Ferry Tom Capeling