An Eye For Life: Photography by John Ferguson

29th June 2024 – 27th April 2025 at Christchurch Mansion

Celebrating themes of portraiture, identity and home, this exhibition will bring works by Ipswich-based photographer John Ferguson to the Wolsey Art Gallery.

“We constantly fail to see what sometimes is right in front of us; that there’s another world inside our own that we often overlook.”

About the Exhibition

From Bowie to Banger Racing, this new exhibition is a celebration of John Ferguson’s photographic career through the themes of portraiture, identity and home. John Ferguson is an internationally established documentary, lifestyle, and portrait photographer who lives in Ipswich. His images tell stories, which are approachable, intimate, and unaffected.

It will showcase portrait projects that John has worked on over the years, including Ipswich’s newly acquired Black Suffolk portraits funded by the Art Fund and The Friends of the Ipswich Museums. The series of 20 photographic portraits creatively explores the concept of home for a diversity of people from the African-Caribbean community who have made Suffolk their home or were born here.

John has worked in over 60 countries and covered a diverse range of photo stories from conflict zones and national disasters to promotional campaigns focusing on poverty, refugees and rural loneliness. He has photographed countless celebrities from Dolly Parton to Beyonce. In 2005, he photographed 50 black British pioneers for the Black Britannia project, which was then collected by the National Portrait Gallery.

This is the first exhibition to explore John’s career and photography projects in Suffolk.

You can also discover more in the Mansion about Ipswich’s historic portrait collection covering 500 years of artists drawing, painting, carving and printing faces.

Exhibition Highlights 

Early Career

John began his career as a photojournalist on Fleet Street, capturing moments that defined an era. Featured in the exhibition is a compelling scrapbook showcasing images of punks, boxers, and renowned personalities from this pivotal phase of his career.

Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to discover the type of camera John employed during these iconic shoots.

A man stands in a grassy garden, his back to the camera, holding a laundry basket filled with clothes. Above him, a clothesline stretches across the scene, displaying prominently two large, colourful boxing shorts with the name "BRUNO" printed across the waistband. The background features a mix of trees and a glimpse of residential structures, under a cloudy sky. Autumn leaves scattered across the ground enhance the seasonal feel of the scene.

Celebrity Portraits

John has had the opportunity to meet and photograph many famous and interesting people during his time as a staff photographer for the Daily Mirror Newspaper. From top rock and pop musicians to film and TV stars, sportsmen and women, to politicians and Royalty. “No two days were ever the same, I’ve been very fortunate to have found a profession that I still love and enjoy today.” Visitors will be able to see Dolly Parton, Pink, The Spice Girls, Beyonce, Lewis Hamilton, David Bowie, Jamelia, The Osbornes and Tom Jones.

International Assignments

John’s work has seen him cover stories in over 60 countries, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Asia, and South Africa, to situations in South Sudan and the Darfur region. His work has seen him travel extensively throughout Africa and Asia producing images on behalf of charities such as Save the Children, Christian Aid, the VSO and UNICEF.

A young boy stands in a muddy village, wearing an oversized dark blue blazer over a white shirt. He looks upwards with an expression of curiosity and wonder. The background is softly focused, featuring traditional thatched structures and a few people engaged in daily activities. The ground is wet and reflects the sky, suggesting recent rainfall in this rural setting.

Black Suffolk Portraits

This series of portraits was acquired for the Ipswich Borough Collection in 2023 and sparked the idea for this exhibition. Black Suffolk explores the concept of home for a diversity of people in the African-Caribbean community in Suffolk.

The theme creatively expresses people’s experience and interpretation of what exactly is home. Home can be a feeling, a physical space or a geographical place. Home can be a memory, metaphor or experience. The idea is to connect with the notion that our lives are inextricably attached to where we live, our homes, and Suffolk.

The image features two logos. The left logo's text reads

A ballerina poses on tiptoe in a woodland pathway, wearing a white bodice and a light blue tutu. Her curly auburn hair contrasts vividly with the lush green leaves surrounding her. The sun filters through the trees, creating dappled shadows on the dirt path. The natural setting and the ballerina's attire fuse the disciplines of dance and nature in a harmonious display.

Creative Portraits

Images that make you stop, stare and explore the story behind them.

From the untold stories of Forgotten African American Cowboys, to the resilience of those Living with Albinism, and the poignant depiction of Rural Loneliness, to the adrenaline-fueled world of Ipswich’s Banger Racers.

An older man with a gentle expression and greying beard stands outdoors, wearing a fur-lined trapper hat and glasses. His rugged jacket is splattered with mud, hinting at outdoor activity. In the background, vibrant race cars and parked vans are visible, indicating the setting is likely at a motorsport event. The overcast sky and natural light create a soft, diffused illumination on the scene.

Commissions

 John has collaborated with numerous organisations, using photography to capture and convey their unique narratives.

His portfolio includes projects with entities like Suffolk Wildlife Trust, aimed at honouring the contributions of both staff and volunteers.

An elderly man with a grey beard sits on a folding stool in the middle of a grassy field. He wears a wide-brimmed hat, a grey t-shirt, and green waders. In his left hand, he holds up a red apple, inspecting it closely, while his right hand rests on his knee. Surrounding him are various items, including a net, a brown bag, a white container, and a few plastic boxes with small items inside. The sky above is overcast with thick, grey clouds, giving the scene a moody atmosphere.

Discover More

Follow us on social media for more insight into the exhibition and updates on upcoming events.

Events

Check out our events calendar to find out what’s on during An Eye For Life: Photography by John Ferguson.

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Plan Your Visit

A grand historic building featuring intricate red brickwork, adorned with unique patterns and white trimming around its windows. The entrance boasts classical white columns, leading up to a door beneath a decorative pediment with a clock centred just above it. The structure's symmetrical architecture is highlighted by a series of white-framed windows, set under a gabled roof with ornamental detailing. The scene is set against a backdrop of a partly cloudy sky, and a well-manicured lawn foregrounds the building, suggesting a well-preserved heritage site.

When: 29th June 2024 – 27th April 2025

Where: Christchurch Mansion

Tickets: The exhibition is free to visit, no booking required

Our exhibitions are held in the Wolsey Art Gallery of Christchurch Mansion. Once you’ve taken in the exhibition, the rest of the Mansion is open for you to explore for free as well.

Visit the Christchurch Mansion page on our website for further information about facilities and accessibility.

Opening Times:

Tuesday – Saturday

10am – 4pm (November – February)
10am – 5pm (March – October)

Sunday

11am – 4pm (November – February)
11am – 5pm (March – October)

Mondays closed

Access

A colour photograph of the Great Hall inside Christchurch Mansion. The floor is covered in black and white square tiles. To the right is a large, black fireplace with a gold-framed portrait hung above it. The painting is of a white man wearing a wig. To the left, archways lead to the museum shop and other ground floor galleries.

Every effort has been made to make Christchurch Mansion a great place to visit for everybody. However, as a Grade I listed building with multiple floor levels providing access to all areas is difficult.

From inside the Mansion, the route to the gallery involves a short flight of steps. An accessible entrance is located from the Gallery’s garden which staff can open for visitors needing level access, and staff will be happy to point out the route to these doors.

For further information, visit our access page.

Thank You

Kerseys

Kerseys Solicitors, a distinguished firm founded in 1881, has offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, and Colchester. With a rich heritage, they specialise in providing tailored legal services to individuals, families, and businesses.

Friends of Ipswich Museums

FoIM is a registered charity that promotes the wider knowledge, appreciation, and enjoyment of the art and collections housed in the Museum’s sites within Ipswich and helps with acquisitions and exhibitions. It supports a fascinating and unique museum complex: Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich Museum, and the Old Art School Gallery.

Art Fund

Founded in 1903, Art Fund has been bringing people and museums together to share in great art and culture for 120 years. During that time, they’ve helped museums across the UK build their collections, keep them accessible to the public, and do much more to inspire their audiences.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. It has set out its strategic vision in Let’s Create, aiming for England to be a country by 2030 where the creativity of each individual is valued and given the chance to flourish. Their goal is for everyone to have access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. Arts Council England invests public money from the Government and The National Lottery to support the sector and deliver this vision.

What's On

Events

Browse the diary to discover what’s on in Ipswich, including fun events for all the family, talks, tours and evening events for adults.

Exhibitions + Displays

Our programme draws from Ipswich’s own art and museum collections, as well as touring exhibitions and work by local artists. We also have an incredible array of permanent displays.

 

Where will your adventure start?