This March sees a unique photography exhibition come to Gloucestershire, as for the first time in the UK a selection of Jean Mohr's iconic photographs for the book A Fortunate Man (1967) go on show. The pictures are a loan from the Mohr archive at the Musee de l'Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland to the University of Gloucestershire. The result of several years work by Reading the Forest, twenty of the original black & white prints made by Mohr himself will be shown first at the University's Hardwick Gallery in Cheltenham, then in special weekend-long show at St Briavels in the Forest of Dean. The photographs were taken by Jean Mohr when he spent several weeks following St Briavels GP Dr John Eskell as he made his rounds and held surgery.
The book was a collaboration between Mohr as photographer, and the renowned art critic, author and broadcaster John Berger as writer. A Fortunate Man would become one of the definitive studies of what it means to be a GP, the doctor'-patient relationship, and the role of the GP in the community, and even today remains recommended reading for trainee general practitioners. Whilst the majority of the pictures on loan are the ones that appear in the book, also in the exhibition will be pictures showing Berger & Mohr themselves at work on the book, observing Dr Eskell and making notes. The exhibition focuses on the photographic aspect of the book, and is all the more poignant with Swiss photographer Mohr having passed away in November. This show follows on from last summer’s Reading the Forest weekend of exhibition, discussions and film screenings at St Briavels that marked fifty years of A Fortunate Man, with much of the focus being on Berger and Dr Eskell himself. Whilst this new exhibition seeks to address the balance, visitors will get another chance to see some of the material from last year's show, explaining the background to the book, its authors, Dr Eskell, and the Forest of Dean in the 1960s.
And bringing the relevance of Mohr's work right up to date, a group of University of Gloucestershire photography degree students will be following in his footsteps as they go on assignment in the Forest of Dean. Inspired by Mohr they will be spending two days in the Forest, hosted by a number of local organisations, photographing people at work and play to create a portrait of the Forest community today. This new work will then go on show alongside Mohr's in a fitting dialogue between a master of documentary photography and the next generation of photographers.
The Cheltenham show runs from Tuesday March 12th until Thursday 28th (10am- 4pm, weekdays only) at The Hardwick Gallery. On Saturday 30th (11am-4pm) and Sunday 31st (10am-4pm) the show will be at St Briavels Assembly Rooms. Entry at both venues is free of charge. The exhibition is a partnership between Reading the Forest and University of Gloucestershire, Musee de l'Elysee, St Briavels Parish Council, the Janet Trotter Trust.