Sidmouth School of Art in association with Sidmouth Folk Festival has welcomed JJ Waller, artist and photographer, to Sidmouth for a special “snap shot in time” collaboration.

JJ Waller is a celebrated British photographer known for his evocative street photography in seaside towns, like Brighton. Originally a performer, he transitioned to photography in the 1990s and gained significant acclaim for his portraits during the Covid 19 lockdown. His book, JJ Waller’s Lockdown, edited by Martin Parr, is described as a poignant reflection of the pandemic.

He will be in Sidmouth during the Sidmouth Folk Festival’s 70th anniversary event in August, hosting a free Q & A event at 2.30pm on 6th August at the Arts Centre, Manor Pavilion as part of the festival’s programme. You can reserve tickets here:

He said: “I’m very excited by the prospect of visiting and working in Sidmouth, it will be my first visit, everything will be completely fresh and new to me, which suits my way of working perfectly. On August 6th, I will also be doing a Q&A session, I don’t have a set talk, I like to let the audience set the flow of the dialogue. Usually, these interactions are great fun.”

During his time in Sidmouth, JJ Waller will also be capturing pictures of local groups, who are invited to contact to request a photoshoot. There will be an opportunity to submit photographs taken during this year’s festival that best describes Sidmouth as part of Your Town, My Town. Submission deadline is 5pm on Friday 23rd August via the Sidmouth School of Art. Open to all ages, images can be taken on a camera or a mobile phone. The submissions will be reviewed by JJ who will curate a public exhibition of his own and selected work to feature on Sidmouth Wallspace by the Ham, the telephone box museum art spaces in Market Square and on local bus stops.  A photobook for the town will also be created as a legacy for the town.

Artist and Sidmouth School of Art’s founding trustee, David Shrigley, said: “Your Town My Town aims to explore our sense of place, encourage people’s curiosity and inspire them to get creative with a camera.”

Sidmouth Folk Festival Director, Tash Daley, said: “We’re really excited to be working with Sidmouth School of Art and JJ Waller on the Your Town My Town project, strengthening links between the town and festival communities.

“For 70 years, Sidmouth has welcomed the Folk Festival, with dancers, musicians and singers transforming the town into a dynamic and living event. The Festival has always embodied the inclusive spirit of folk culture, welcoming participants of all ages, backgrounds and experiences and this inclusivity is mirrored on street photography, making it the ideal medium for this project, anyone can take part.

“We hope that using the Festival as a backdrop for the project will provide local communities with a new perspective on the festival and reinforce their sense of place, celebrating the unique character and spirit of Sidmouth.”

More information on the project can be found here : The project is supported by Sidmouth School of Art, Sidmouth Folk Festival, The Royal Glen Hotel, Sidmouth and Cllr Stuart Hughes’ Locality Fund