James Ravilious (1939-1999) trained as an artist, like his father Eric, but a Cartier-Bresson exhibition converted him to photography, which he taught himself. In 1972, a move to his wife Robin’s homeland – a very rural, unspoilt part of North Devon – inspired him.
It also produced the perfect job: recording daily life in that traditional bit of old England before it was modernised. He devoted himself to this for more than seventeen years.
The results, over 75,000 black and white negatives in the Beaford Archive, form what Barry Lane, Secretary General of the Royal Photographic Society, called ‘a unique body of work, unparalleled at least in this country for its scale and quality’.