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‘Out of the Shadows’ – The life and work of Ifor and Joy Thomas

Come to The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth on 23 and 24 November 2012 for a celebration of the enormous contribution of the Welshman from Cross Hands, Ifor Thomas and his wife, Joy to British photography.

Through their courses at the Guilford School of Photography during mid-twentieth century, Ifor and Joy Thomas revolutionised the way photography was taught in Britain and laid the foundations for more than a generation of successful and influential photographers and film directors.

Lens is the annual documentary photography festival held at the National Library of Wales. It’s a celebration and recognition of the Library’s collections of over 800,000 documentary photographs.

‘When I volunteered to research the lives and work of Ifor and Joy Thomas in their pioneering School of Photography I had no idea what I had promised the National Library,’ said Rita Tait, Convener and Speaker at Lens 2012.

Rita Tait is a researcher and writer. She initiated the Arthur Machen Literary Society which ran for 12 years restoring the reputation of this Anglo Welsh writer. Rita then devoted her time and talent to Ifor and Joy Thomas’s collections. For almost three years she has converted what was a disparate jumble of old photographs, drawings and writing into the material which makes this event possible.

Rita’s husband Jack is a former student of Ifor and Joy Thomas at Guilford School of Photography, 1955 – 1958 and he set up The School of Photography at Derby College of Art and Manchester Polytechnic. In 1982 he was given all of Joy and Ifor Thomas’s ephemera and memorabilia which have been kindly gifted to the National Library of Wales.

This year’s Lens festival will include a host of influential speakers. As well as Rita and Jack Tait, they include; Professor Suga of Tsuda College Japan, who has published and lectured extensively on aspects of British Design in her role as Secretary of the Design History Workshop, Japan; William Troughton who is the National Library of Wales Curator for the National Collection of Welsh Photographs and has written and Published books on the history of photography and social history.

Former students of Ifor Thomas will also be speaking during Lens 2012 Festival. They include Tessa Traeger who is one of the outstanding still-life photographers of her generation; Julia Hedgecoe whose work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, London and Adam Woolfitt who writes on digital photography for the British Journal of Photography, Image Magazine and Photo District News in New York. Adam has also contributed to the National Geographic and other leading magazines for 30 years.

‘The Lens weekend is always a pleasurable and interesting get-together for all those interested in photography. We attract professional and amateur photographers as well as people interested in social history. Past speakers at the annual Lens festival have included the world-famous Phillip Jones-Griffiths and David Hurn.’ said William Troughton, National Library of Wales Curator for the National Collection of Welsh Photographs.

Several years ago Mrs Jennifer Duncan, niece of Joy was walking through Gregynog Gallery at the National Library of Wales and recognised the voice of her uncle from a film being run on a video screen. This fluke encounter led to the library’s fruitful relationship with Jack and Rita Tait and will be enlarged upon at Lens 2012.

Further Information

Elin Hâf, NLW Press Office 01970 632534

Useful Links

Lens 2012