British life through the eyes of Colin Jones

Catholic family after the bailiffs, The Cregan Derry, Northern Ireland, 1978 Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption Catholic family after the bailiffs, The Cregan Derry, Northern Ireland, 1978

Colin Jones's life could have been very different. He was a dancer with the Royal Ballet when he picked up a camera while on tour in Japan and began to record his colleagues' performances.

His eye for a picture brought him to the attention of one of the great photojournalists of the 1950s and 60s, Hungarian emigre Michael Peto. And with his help and guidance, Jones stepped off the stage and behind the lens.

Born in east London in 1936, Jones captured social change across the UK. From the Gorbals in Glasgow to the docks of Liverpool, his pictures helped explain the country to readers of The Observer and subsequently the Sunday Times newspapers.

Those images now form an important record of the post-war years, documenting the struggle to survive in tough economic times and the daily routines of an age that now seems long gone.

His skill lies in his ability to convey a wider story through a single image, drawing the viewer into the scene through the use of shape and form.

Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption Benwell, Newcastle, 1963
Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption A steam train delivers coal to a steelworks, West Hartlepool, 1963

Jones travelled widely too. Among other places, he visited Leningrad, as was, bringing life behind the Iron Curtain to the breakfast tables of the west.

Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption Jones captured residents of Leningrad sunbathing in 1964

Perhaps his best known photographs were taken while on assignment for The Sunday Times.

In 1973 he was asked to photograph Harambee, a housing project for young black people in Islington, many seemingly on the wrong side of the law.

But instead of taking pictures that would have reinforced pre-conceived notions, Jones devoted time to getting to know his subjects and building a rapport with them.

Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption The Black House, Holloway Road, London 1976
Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption The Black House, Holloway Road, London 1976

This empathy with a marginalised community resulted in a powerful set of photographs which were shown at The Photographers' Gallery in 1977 in an exhibition called The Black House, which later toured widely.

Those images and many others from Colin Jones's long career are on show at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London until 3 June.

Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption Miners racing their greyhounds, North East Consett, 1980
Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption Pushing a coal tram, Ammanford, South Wales, 1990
Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption Unemployment, Labour Exchange (ex-miners), Hartlepool, 1962
Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption Unemployed, Waiting for Work, Canteen Liverpool Docks, 1963
Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption Royal Ballet Rehearsal, London, 1961
Image copyright Colin Jones / Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
Image caption The Who, Just Men, Chelsea, London, 1966

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