Interviews, New Talent, Ones To Watch, Photobooks, Portrait

Images from the faded and forgotten last outposts of the British Empire

  • His Excellency Nigel Haywood CVO, Governor of the Falkland Islands, Government House, Stanley

    His Excellency Nigel Haywood CVO, Governor of the Falkland Islands, Government House, Stanley

  • Marcus Henry has worked at the Meteorological Station on St Helena since 1976, releasing a weather balloon each day at 11.15. He became station manager in 1992.

    Marcus Henry has worked at the Meteorological Station on St Helena since 1976, releasing a weather balloon each day at 11.15. He became station manager in 1992.

  • Andy Crowe, pictured during St Helena Day celebrations.He is an expat from the UK, working as a housing executive for the St Helena Government, dressing as Napoleon when the need arises. Jamestown, St Helena.

    Andy Crowe, pictured during St Helena Day celebrations.He is an expat from the UK, working as a housing executive for the St Helena Government, dressing as Napoleon when the need arises. Jamestown, St Helena.

  • A Gather of Sheep, Long Island Farm, Falkland Islands

    A Gather of Sheep, Long Island Farm, Falkland Islands

  • German tourists photographing a gnome garden, Stanley, Falkland Islands

    German tourists photographing a gnome garden, Stanley, Falkland Islands

  • Blue Hill Area, St Helena

    Blue Hill Area, St Helena

  • Lesley Williams and his wife Beatrice attend Sunday morning service at Sandy Bay Baptist Chapel, Sandy Bay, St Helena

    Lesley Williams and his wife Beatrice attend Sunday morning service at Sandy Bay Baptist Chapel, Sandy Bay, St Helena

  • L-R Jonathan Repetto, George Swain, Clifton Repetto, Damian Swain and Riaan Repetto. Tristan da Cunha has a total of seven surnames amongst a population of 259 people.

    L-R Jonathan Repetto, George Swain, Clifton Repetto, Damian Swain and Riaan Repetto. Tristan da Cunha has a total of seven surnames amongst a population of 259 people.

  • A Double-Fleeced Sheep, Fox Bay, West Falkland, Falkland Islands

    A Double-Fleeced Sheep, Fox Bay, West Falkland, Falkland Islands

  • Calshot Harbour, Tristan da Cunha - the only way on or off the island, the harbour is too small for ships to dock so they anchor offshore and use pontoons to collect cargo and passengers.

    Calshot Harbour, Tristan da Cunha - the only way on or off the island, the harbour is too small for ships to dock so they anchor offshore and use pontoons to collect cargo and passengers.

All images © Jon Tonks

Jon Tonks' elegiac portraits of the decaying final outposts of British Overseas Territories caught the eye of Martin Parr

For six years, Bath-based photographer Jon Tonks worked on a long-term personal project, culminating in the book Empire, published in December 2013 by Dewi Lewis. He travelled to a series of remote British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic Ocean, which included St Helena, Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha and the Falkland Islands, documenting the people and places from these last remaining pockets of the empire.

“On each of the islands, I would spend the first week not taking many pictures, discovering who and what was most interesting, and getting to know people so they would understand why I was there,” he says. “This was particularly important on Tristan da Cunha, a remote British territory in the South Atlantic with a population of 259. They were a little shy and wary of random people turning up on their island with a camera.”

Tonks would drive around the islands looking for locations to shoot, and arranged times to take people’s portraits. Yet within this self-imposed structure, he also allowed himself to record what he stumbled across by chance. “Studying photojournalism [at the London College of Communication, following an undergraduate degree in product design] taught me that the story behind each picture should be as interesting as the image itself. I was keen to blend elements of historic importance with elements of humour when they arose. This maintained my interest, and hopefully the viewers’ too.”

Nominated as ‘One to Watch’ by Martin Parr, who has worked with Dewi Lewis on books for the past 25 years, Tonks has built up a loyal following with editorial clients, including Time, Monocle and the weekend supplements of The Sunday Times, The Guardian, FT and The Telegraph, and has figured in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, Magenta’s Flash Forward and the Terry O’Neill award. And for his self-initiated assignment, he has produced a project that was “crying out to be done”, says Parr. “Spending many weeks on Tristan da Cunha and St Helena, Tonks has shot a series that evokes the… reality of these islands. He weaves these photographs together with the stories that surround them in his compelling book.”

Find more of Jon’s work here.

First published in the January 2014 issue. You can buy this issue here.

MARCH 2017 ISSUE:

From the places we call home to Earth’s altered landscape, we’ve partnered with Britain’s biggest photofestival, Format, to explore the theme of ‘Habitat’.  It’s available to order online now.

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