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

Posted in News

Portraits from the North East moves on

So far the Portraits from the North East project has held two successful exhibitions, the first at The Alnwick Garden, and at Newcastle Cathedral. The comments we have received have been positive.

“A great exhibition showing North East Success”… a visitor from Sunderland

“Great display – nice to learn about local heroes – more please” … a visitor from Newcastle upon Tyne.

“Inspiring! We are lucky to have these wonderful people in our region.” … a visitor from Norton-on-Tees.

“In a celebrity led culture it is refreshing to see others taking the limelight. Excellent and very informative exhibition. Well worth making trip to view.” … a visitor from Newcastle

The good news is the exhibition will continue touring across the region and will be opening soon in other venues.

More about the PftNE locations and dates will follow in further blogs.

John Cogan

Pictured: the exhibitions at The Alnwick Garden and St Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle

  Alnwick Garden, Pavillion. Peter Walton  20150517 482  PftNE Exhibition, St Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle.

Posted in Uncategorized

Portraits Update, June 2015

This time last year David Trout, Julie Ferry and I were the guests of Bryony Gibson DL and her Pug dog, Tulip. A great deal has happened since then. On Monday, we dismantled the exhibition in St Nicholas’ Cathedral. As I write this we are anticipating news of another North East venue for the next showing.

Our fame is spreading and our aim to record events and people for a North East audience is developing along new lines; specific areas of interest and new projects are being finalised. More coffee will be consumed as we grow as a collective and celebrate the region.

The Portraits group will continue to photograph and exhibit, developing from its humble beginnings into a voice that extols the wonderful variety and skills of people in the North East. More news of this to follow

In the mean time keep a look out for future venues for the original Portraits exhibition: one will be at Blyth’s Arts and Leisure Centre for the whole of October, and other opportunities are being explored. We will keep you posted.

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John Cogan ARPS

Posted in Uncategorized

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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     20150517 431 PftNE Exhibition, St Nicholas Cathedral


Posted in News

Thoughts on a Project well done!

by John Cogan

It is now the custom that, at the end of any endeavour, you reflect and evaluate. It matters little whether that is a General Election or a photographic project. So, now the dust has settled a little, I shall attempt to put into words the impossible.

From the start, (back in late 2013) to now, the project became somewhat all-consuming. Like many projects, it started small with me approaching a few of the local “movers and shakers”. They were kind enough to agree and the demands placed upon them were minimal, yet the Director of the Sage put me on to Sir Thomas Allen, and from there life became interesting.

These initial forays were also solo efforts and this is where I came to the first momentous decision concerning the logistics of the project. Solo sessions were limiting. They were producing the kinds of results I didn’t want. Those early shoots were stiff and most of the images looked posed. This was partly my fault because I was new to portraiture and felt tongue-tied with the dual task of chat and snap… When it came to the big leap forward and the session with Sir Thomas Allen I needed a fellow photographer…..   Read on

Pictured: on location – John Cogan and Sir Thomas Allen, John Clarke and Stephen Miller

   John Cogan in conversation with Sir Thomas Allen. TG   John Clarke and Steve Miller at the Sage

Posted in Essays

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

   Duchess of Northumberland with Bishop Martin Wharton and Northumberland Fire Chief Alex Bennett e  683A8442 e

   20150505 035 p Lord Walton, Mr and Mrs Jim Montgomery e  683A8462 e

   20150505 211 p Steve Cram OBE and Ray Lonsdale e  20150505 099 e

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Posted in News

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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Posted in News

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.


Posted in News

The Story so Far – reviewed 20th April 2015

The latest additions include:

Lord Walton of Detchant, Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, Dr Richard Kirk, Frank Major MBE, John Mowbray OBE, Susan Winfield and Trai Anfield

Pictured: Lord Walton and Dr Nazarpour on location with PftNE

   20150320 118 Lord Walton  20150313 b 006 Dr Kianoush Nazarpour


Posted in Uncategorized

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

Posted in News

The Story so Far – reviewed 25th February 15

Since the last Story so Far update in January we have photographed two Professors from the world of medical research, an author and former Children’s Laureate, a Deputy Shadow Chief Whip MP, a Judge, a Director of a major North East museum, a Chief Fire Officer and a renowned artist

Pictured: on location with Adrian Jenkins, Bowes Museum,  and Prof. Herbie Newell

20150217 183 Adrian Jenkins, Bowes Museum 20150210 013 Prof. Herbie Newell


Posted in Web Site Updates

Glass Walls and Narrow Lanes

by John Cogan ARPS

The venue is Sunderland’s National Glass Centre. Overlooking the River Wear, the wall of glass, allows for an uninterrupted view of traffic and the monstrous red-painted vessel at rest opposite. Stand still and sample the light. It fills every nook and cranny, adds lustre to the pale walls, and provides the perfectly balanced background for our portrait session. It is early morning and the Centre is opening, making ready for the first visitors. Peter Walton and I are there to photograph Marie Nixon. She is the CEO of Sunderland University Students’ Union, is on the board of Music, Arts and Culture Trust and was once member of the Indie Rock band Kenikie. Marie Is a Sunderland girl. She is the perfect subject; sitting with her coffee and listening while we explain the project. Occasionally, she asks a question or adds a comment. Our project has engaged her interest.

The contemporary backgrounds in the Centre are appropriate for this young woman. Fortunately, the bright sunlight of the morning is fading to a paler blue and a layer of fine cloud diffuses the light. Marie’s colouring and this softer light are combinations that provide an ideal photographic opportunity.

The shoot ends and Peter and I leave Newcastle, and travel along the A68 towards Haydon Bridge. Sited high on the valley side overlooking the town and the river is the home of one of the North East’s best loved comedians: Brendan Healy. To reach this eerie we snake our way along single-track lanes, through farmyards and pass solid, stone dwellings. There is something comforting in this raw, rural landscape.

To call Brendan just a comedian is the same as saying Woody Allen is just a stand-up. He started his life in entertainment as a musician with groups such as Lindisfarne. As an actor, Brendan Healy has appeared in many classic television programmes such as Auf Weidersehen Pet, Boon, Spender, Byker Grove, Coronation Street and the Catherine Cookson series, amongst so many others. His theatrical CV includes everything from Shakespeare to pantomime, musicals like West Side Story to comedy plays like Andy Capp. He has written, produced, directed and even composed the music for many more. For West Side Story he even orchestrated the fight scenes.

Performing with John Miles and two years on the road with Lindisfarne merely adds to this entertainment polymath’s biography. Generous, and another subject supportive of the project, Brendan takes us where he knows the lighting will be perfect, and it was. Evening light slopes in from the west, warm and subtle, only partially filtered by the leafless trees that surround us. Brendan shivers and assumes a role, mugging for the camera. The shoot eventually produces two distinct types of photographs: the comic mask and the intimately reflective.

A single day of photography made special by the subjects: their openness, their commitment and generosity brighten the winter gloom. Being a Yorkshireman Brendan found time to joke about a dyslexic Yorkshireman wearing his Cat Flap…. Ah, well! Even that failed to dampen feeling good

John Cogan

Pictured:  Brendan Healy and Marie Nixon photographed by John Cogan

      Marie Nixon at the Glass Centre  Marie Nixon and the white wall in mono

           Brendan Healy through the diamond window       Brendan Healy shivering for comic effect 


Posted in Behind the Scenes

The Story so Far – reviewed 30th January 15

The latest additions include:

  •  Prof. Sir John Burn
  • From the world of entertainment we have Brendan Healy and John Miles
  • From politics we have Lord Jeremy Beecham
  • The poet Katrina Porteous, and the guiding hand behind Side Gallery Graeme Rigby
  • Mike Barton, Chief Constable of the Durham Constabulary and Marie Nixon, once a member of the pop group Kenickie and now part of Sunderland’s regeneration
  • And Gary Bennett, the legendary Sunderland FC footballer

Pictured: Katrina Porteus and Professor Christopher Chinnery on location with PftNE

        Katrina Porteus on location at Beadnell with Joe Grabham (centre) and John Coganfrom right, John Clarke, John Cogan, Professor Chinnery

Posted in Web Site Updates

The Story So Far – reviewed 15th December 14

After a busy, pre-Christmas period we have to report the following new additions to our portfolio:

  • The two founders of the Berghaus brand: Peter Lockey and Gordon Davidson,
  • Ammar Mirza CBE, called by the Journal “The most powerful British Asian in the North East!”
  • Malcolm Gerry, the power behind The Tube and many other musical events… giving us a photo opportunity after a phone call with Bob Geldof
  • Grahame Morris MP for Easington,
  • Mike Tilley, the businessman behind the Newcastle Arts Centre and other developments.
  • Steve Howey, Sunderland-born but played football for Newcastle (and Manchester City)
  •  Jim Montgomery, legendary Sunderland goal keeper and ambassador for Sunderland AFC.

Pictured: the founders of Berghaus

                        Berghaus founders

Posted in Web Site Updates