Jem Southam Photographs – Ray’s Sheds: The Hidden Work of Ray Exworth

10 September - 29 October 2016

Opening: Saturday 10 September 2–5pm 3pm Talking about Ray Exworth
 with Jem Southam and Tim Shaw

‘…so he bought a cottage in remote West Cornwall and built a large wooden shed and moved all his existing work into it – no question of doing any work on the cottage until the shed was completed. This became a very private place, his own sanctuary, and to allow anyone to enter would be to give them access to a very private and personal part of his mind which he did not feel inclined to share with anyone. For some years even I was not allowed in and he told visiting friends that this strange large building was a neighbouring farmer’s barn.’ – Susie Exworth, 2016

Born in Ipswich in 1930, Ray Exworth studied at the Royal College of Art from 1955 to 1959. Twice awarded the Arts Council Major Award, he has lectured at the Royal College of Art, Royal Academy Sculpture School and Falmouth School of Art. For over forty years he lived and worked in relative seclusion at his home in Cornwall.

In 2011 Kestle Barton made a landmark exhibition documenting the work of Ray Exworth, one of Cornwall’s most reclusive but exciting sculptors and including some large scale photographs of his work by Jem Southam. In 2015 Ray Exworth died, leaving behind his wife, Susie, and the Wroxham Trust to oversee the legacy of his estate; including The Circus, still unseen.

Jem Southam, currently Professor of Photography at Plymouth University, a very fine and widely collected photographer and close friend of Ray and Susie,  visited regularly during the 1980s and in so doing was able to make a remarkable series of photographs of Ray’s work. Now Jem Southam has returned to Ray’s sheds with his camera, his memories of Ray, and a renewed desire to document and share this lifetime’s work.


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See link below to read ‘A Vine Leaf for Ray’ by Tim Shaw RA. Tim Shaw joined Jem Southam in conversation on 10 September 2016 for an Artist Talk about Ray’s Sheds.

Essays (Downloads)

Circus shed

Pump room

shed opposite the house

big wooden shed

Jem Southam

Jem Southam was born in Bristol in 1950. He studied at the London College of Printing for a Higher Diploma in Creative Photography from 1969 to 1972. He is now Professor of Photography at the University of Plymouth. He is known for his large and detailed colour photographs, taken with a large-format camera.

Southam has had solo exhibitions at venues including The Photographers’ Gallery, London, 1987; Cenre d’Art Contemporain, Bruxelles, 1992; Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia, 1995; Tate St. Ives, Cornwall, England, 2004; Robert Mann Gallery, New York, 2004; Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, 2005; Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2005; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 2005; and PhotoEspana, Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid, Spain, 2010.

Of interest...


Jem Southam  Photographs – Ray’s Sheds: The Hidden Work of Ray Exworth

2016 publication

Introduction by Jem Southem and Essay by Susie Exworth

20 Colour photographs by Jem Southem from the current exhibition and additional images


P10801532011 exhibition catalogue‘Ray Exworth: A Shutter Came Down’

Ray Exworth: A Shutter Came Down exhibition catalogue
Essay by David Heseltine

Published to coincide with the exhibition Ray Exworth: A Shutter Came Down (17 Sep – 30 Oct 2011)

Full colour illustration of Ray Exworth’s The Circus box constructions, his drawings and Jem Southam’s photographic work of Ray’s sculptural installation at Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro in 1995; along with photographs taken of Ray’s studio in later years.

Soft back with 36 pages



‘Ray Exworth: Sculptor’ DVD

Ray Exworth: Sculptor
A film by Chris Chapman

Commissioned by The Ray Exworth Wrexham Trust to coincide with the exhibition Ray Exworth: A Shutter Came Down (17 Sep – 30 Oct 2011)

Back cover summary:
For over 45 years Ray Exworth has worked in a remote part of Cornwall producing monumental sculpture, much of which draws on memory and experience of his childhood in East Anglia during the Second World War.

Working briefly as an engineering apprentice, and later as a meteorologist in the Civil Service, Ray entered Ipswich School of Art to study painting in 1951.

The effect of a trip to the Musee Rodin in Paris, an experience that Ray described as ‘almost like a religious conversation’, prompted his decision to become a sculptor.


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