In 2007 a critically acclaimed and highly controversial Westcountry based photographer named John Langley had his work exhibited at the internationally prestigious Tate Modern gallery in London, in a show called 'Personality Plus' - which he founded and featured a collection of work based on his own mental health condition of unwellness..
Not many have achieved this in England, but more importantly this was a first for the South West: and he's the only Westcountry photographer to have ever had his images on display there to date. Quite an achievement given that there are cutting edge photographers from all over the world who would give life and limb for the same opportunity. An ambition which few, if any, will ever reach.
This was headline making material which the media jumped on. The story ran on radio, television, and in the press. The Westcountry had won the equivalent of an Olympic gold medal in the arts, and the profile of this relatively unknown photographer took him to another level overnight. As a result of this his life and work was filmed by the BBC for broadcast later in 2008.
Never being one to shy away from highly emotive subjects his most radical work reflects suicide, violent attack, and sexuality: all in graphic detail which quite deliberately provokes a viewer's response. He's the bad boy of photo and video. A porn-again Christian anarchist who American Christian artists ganged up on to have his work banned from a number of high profile USA internet art sites for being too honest and reflective of life for their particular sensitivities. Somewhat hysterically they saw his work as dangerous and him as the anti-Christ, or Devil incarnate. Yet his whole ethos is one of reflecting life, the extremities of human behaviour: and a small aspect of the viewer's own personality which they, in some way, feel uncomfortable with. And it works! Whether as vanilla John Langley, or his alter-ego Johnny Rockard, eleven years later he still makes the news all over the world in both broadcast and print media. He is more commonly known nowadays for his involvement in politics. Both as an election candidate and activist (especially on issues of housing and homelessness), and his views have been featured widely on television, radio, on-line news media, and in local, national and international newspapers.
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"Once a rebel always a rebel, and it's best to be a rebel
to show 'em it don't pay to do you down." Alan Sillitoe.
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