Stories from the 8th Consciousness

24 Nov-30 Nov


THIERRY ROY was born and raised in the ‘East End’ of Paris. His natural feel as a child for all things technical lead to a predominantly science based education. He moved to England in 1988 to further his studies and completed his physics PhD in 1994. He has now lived in England for 23 years altogether. He has been a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism within the lay organisation Soka Gakkai International (SGI) since 1986.

With a Godfather and Grandmother running an industrial photography lab, his exposure to the medium (and to the smell of chemicals) as a child was probably above average; having his Kodak Instamatic 126 film cassettes (and later 35mm rolls) processed for free was no doubt an advantage. His first ‘real’ photographic experience however was when, aged 19, he travelled to the north of England and Scotland for three weeks to improve his English – returning with surprisingly enough English to pass his exams, but also with 13 rolls of exposed film and the feeling that it was time he upgraded to a ‘proper’ camera. With help from his very generous Grandmother Thierry purchased his first SLR (a Canon F1) which became his trusted companion as he endlessly roamed the streets of Paris. Whether in book shops, cafés, libraries, etc. the exposure to the work of such photographers as: Boubat, Doisneau, Willy Ronis and Cartier-Bresson, was constant. But it was only after he had moved to England and discovered London’s photographic scene that the world of exhibitions was opened to him. In the summer of 1989 – while back in Paris for a break – he did lots of exhibitions and something clicked. After that his Canon wasn’t just a nice piece of engineering he liked to own anymore but it had become the bridge between the technical college boy and another side of himself he could no longer ignore. The old mechanical film cameras he uses to this day still fulfill this very same function; and traditional darkroom-based printing techniques haven’t lost their appeal – not withstanding the endearing smell of chemicals.

On his return to university from that magic summer of 89′, the world had become a Black & White photographic place. Quite unexpectedly he was invited to join the photographic team of the Buddhist organisation’s fortnightly news publication. His first assignment was to cover the performing art division’s annual general meeting led by Sandie Shaw. She had it in her mind to take a report of the event to Japan and she lamented his inexperience. But with some generous help, he got some suitably whacky shots. What followed was to become the norm for the next three years: a long night in the darkroom and serious disruption to his physics studies. Thus he learnt his developing and printing skills on the job and under pressure – an ideal training ground. Subsequently the second B&W photograph he ever printed was published and even went to Japan!

He eventually had to lock away his photographic equipment to complete his PhD; on the night he submitted his theses, almost exactly two years to the day, the camera was out again. This was as far as the technical college boy was ready to go; content with his contribution to ‘Science’, he enrolled on a fast-track course to professional photography at the London College of Printing in 1995. London’s professional world was a daunting one. He moved back to France with his partner in 1996 to settle in the Ardennes near the town of Sedan. Luxembourg was only an hour’s drive away and the place to go to for work. There he obtained commissions he would have never dreamt of in London. His daughter Éva was born in 1997 and put an end to the commuting to Luxembourg. They returned to the UK in the summer of 2000 and settled in Swanage.

This was again a new beginning. The omnipresence of the sea was to become a major influence; the beach became his streets and ‘clocking in’ on the seafront at 9 am daily gave him the discipline he needed to establish his photography. The opening in Swanage of ‘The Photographer’s Lounge’, a gallery dedicated to photography, came at the perfect time; there ensued a fruitful relationship of several years.

Thierry now lives in Dorchester and although, after 4 years, he is still waiting for the tide to come in (not long a wait at the pace the Jurassic coast is eroding in places…), the move ‘inland’ and fresh access to new roaming grounds prompted a healthy return to his Parisian roots and Cartier-Bresson influence.

With similarities with Carl Jung’s ‘collective unconscious’, Buddhism proposes the existence of a level of consciousness–the 8th in depth–at which, through causality, all life, sentient and nonsentient alike, is interconnected. From it follows that in any encounter, aware of it or not, one is never just an observer, an innocent bystander, but an active contributor; and photographs are ‘instants’ in a never-ending play of significant, yet mostly unknown, collaborations. With his fascination with people & places–camera in hand or not!–Thierry’s photographs are his take on what could possibly, in that click of a moment, link them all. In that they truly are Stories from the 8th Consciousness.

Event: 3pm to 7pm on Saturday 29th November


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Open daily, 11:30am to 6pm

Event: 3pm to 7pm on Saturday 29th November


24 Nov 2014 - 30 Nov 2014