Jean Mohr’s photographs for his 1967 book with John Berger, A Fortunate Man, drew nearly three hundred people to the Assembly Rooms at the heart of St Briavels in an exhibition over the 30th and 31st of March. Twenty of Mohr’s original photographic prints for the book were on display for the first time in the UK on loan from the photographic archive at the Musee de l’Elysee in Switzerland. The St Briavels show was the culmination of month-long project that saw a new generation of photographers inspired by to Mohr’s work to take their own photographs reflecting life in the Forest of Dean today.
The first part of the exhibition opened at University of Gloucestershire’s Hardwick Gallery in Cheltenham with an expert panel and invited guests discussing the photographs and asking what subjects might reflect the reality of the Forest today. Students form the University’s Documentary Photography course then spent two days with a range of groups in the Forest taking pictures for display alongside Mohr’s. The whole exhibition then moved to St Briavels were Mohr had worked with Berger, following the work of local GP Dr John Eskell and his patients. Opening the exhibition, Dame Janet Trotter remarked on the power of the Mohr’s pictures, and reflected on her own career journey working in both the health service and academia, and on the changes in the NHS since Eskell’s time. Also at the opening were Ivy Gunter and Brychan Gretton whose portraits featured in the book. Over the next two days people from near and far visited to see Mohr’s photographs and those taken by the students.
Brychan Gretton holding his original portrait, a gift sent from Switzerland by Jean Mohr
Millie Wasley wife of the late Garnet Wasley who features in the photograph
Some of the twenty Mohr prints on show at St Briavels