Category: Trees and Sky Exhibition


Why I Committed To ‘Trees and Sky’

I came to live on a beach near Marmaris after a busy full-time career spent helping others. I was once a social worker and then a psychotherapist. After more than thirty years in the field it was pretty obvious that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way our world is going, and it seemed equally obvious that there was very little I could do to remedy it.

Nevertheless I decided to make a start.

It was clear that helping individuals, or even groups within my profession would not make that much difference. Besides I was getting ‘stale’ and needed new challenges.

Two things seemed to me to be imperative. Firstly, to give my baby daughter the very best start I could in life. After all she will, hopefully, be around long after I’m gone and with the right ideals and mind-set may achieve more than I can. Secondly, since politicians and scientists seem to be failing us, whatever I offer must come from the inside outwards, from the heart if you like, rather than being engineered, or even planned.

An exhibition, of course, does need planning and coordination, but I’m not writing about that kind of detail when thinking about this body of photographic work.

At first I simply put my house in order, literally for the dwelling in which I live with my family had to be rebuilt. Then, seemingly, I did nothing. But during this unplanned doing nothingness I came to take photographs of my friends, the terrain, our garden, and whatever else took my fancy.

I’ve always been a photographer. I used the family Box Ensign long before I was given my first camera at the age of eight. I struggled to make prints at home and within the school camera club. Eventually I signed up for a photography course given by Michael Eldridge, with whom I share this exhibition.

Later my work expanded. In a parallel career in publishing I learned how to take pictures to illustrate stories, and for commercial purposes.

These photographs though are different. They are simply reflections that I found when walking in my back yard. Nothing is contrived about them. Where I’ve used techniques to tone, or emphasise areas of an image it has simply been in the photographic tradition of rendering on paper the image I saw in my mind.

In Tibet, I am told, when someone is sick a traditional doctor, frequently a shamanic priest, may be called and s/he will prescribe a course of meditation that involves gazing into a Mandala.

I believe pictures have a similar ability to heal, not in a prescriptive kind of way as the result of a Feng Shui consultation, although I’m sure my photographs could be used to great advantage in this manner. Rather, when they are properly framed, and respected, they have the ability to focus your mind back into the land of your ancestors. A land largely unpolluted and unspoilt.

It is only through such a focus that our world can be healed and made whole once again.


Free Postcards, At The Trees And Sky Exhibition, Marmaris.

Trees and Sky starts with an Exhibition in Marmaris, Turkey commencing on 28th May, and continuing until June 10th. There is to be a blazing hot party for the private showing on 28th, when Michael Eldridge, the former Director of Postgraduate Studies in Photography at Bournemouth College of Art will be available to answer questions about his work.

Early visitors to the show, from 29th May, will be given a limited edition folio of postcards, while stocks last. These feature works from both Eldridge and Stephen Bray.

They are perfect for thanking the hostess following a dinner party, or for writing a note of condolence, or affection to a loved one. But they are real post cards and we want you to use them, rather than leave them to gather dust in a drawer.



The Trees and Sky Exhibition

Trees and Sky is not simply an exhibition but marks the start of an on-going project aimed to help people reconnect with the elemental aspects of life, which for many are obscured by the pressures of everyday life.


The exhibition images are a number of large prints featuring the Sibillini Mountains of Le Marche, Italy, and the rugged hills that are to be found on the Lorima Peninsular, Turkey.

Michael Eldridge and I met 35 years ago in a college in England where Michael taught photography, but they lost touch after the class ended.

I went on to pursue a dual career as both columnist and photographer for a number of publications, as a side-string to his main career as a psychotherapist. Since coming to live in Turkey in 2000 I taught a generation of Turkish professionals Family Therapy and continue to play a role in the field.

Michael left his post as Director of Post Graduate Studies in Photography at the prestigious Bournemouth College of Art in order to work with Sue Mann (ex Art Director of Vogue) in her company ‘Synektics’ a London based media company, U.K. During this period he worked with many famous photographers including Lord Snowdon, the former husband of Princess Margaret. He met the American landscape photographer Ansel Adams, whilst teaching in California as a Fulbright Scholar.

Some of my images appeared in ‘Cahoots’, a regional magazine about alternative lifestyles published in the North of England, and also in ‘The County Forum’, a Dorset based publication. I also worked in the U.K with the advertising photographer Shaun Cullen, and portraitist Nigel Port. His work is finding its way into a number of private collections.

Michael and I have been taking photographs since we were boys and together have put over 100 man years into the study and application of the medium. They share a remarkable kindred-like relationship that enables them to take up their ability to work and banter even after prolonged absences of contact.

Remarkably Michael, at an age when most people would be firmly retired, has just launched a second career for himself as a Creativity Coach, which enables him to continue to teach young people ways to enhance their lives and careers.

Over the years they have taken part in over 20 Exhibitions in Europe and North America but hitherto have never shown their work together.

We took the opportunity to launch ‘Trees and Sky’ in Marmaris when Özgur Uğan, of Netsel Marina, Marmaris, suggested that Netsel Gallery would be a perfect venue. Michael was keen to bring his work to Turkey, having visited the country in his youth.

Trees and Sky is opening to private view on 28th May at Netsel Gallery, Marmaris and will be open to the public from 29th May until 10th June.2010.


The Remarkable Story of ‘Trees and Sky’

Who would have thought that a friendship might endure for thirty-five years without those chums meeting, or hearing, of each other at all?

And how strange that each, in our own unique ways have trodden a similar paths.

Michael Eldridge is an accomplished artist, both on canvas, for like many good photographers he paints, and also as a highly attuned lens-man. Now living in the mystical Sibillini Mountains of Le Marche, Italy, he was an art teacher in Dorset, U.K. when I first encountered him.

I have been making images for half a lifetime using the skills first imparted to me by Michael long ago.

Although people rarely appear in their images both Michael and I share an enthusiasm for others. He is a driving force within the ‘Tiger Eagles Coaching Group’, and teaches Creativity Workshops, both in Italy and other countries.

I spent years teaching generations of psychotherapists, including doctors and psychologists, both in the U.K. and Turkey, and continue to provide support and supervision for many health care professionals.

There are three elements to each image Michael and I produced for our exhibition. There is the sky, which changes but like any personality yet remains the same essential entity. Then there are the trees, growing daily and, like all living things, subject to finite lives that witness both virtue and hardship.

The third element is you, the viewer. We invite you to make what you will of the images in this exhibition.

Stephen Jeremy Maxwell Bray and Michael John Eldridge

StephenBray and Michael Eldridge


Veteran Female Turkish Photographer Applauds ‘Trees And Sky’.

When Tuncay Çöteloğlu heard that Michael Eldridge and I were launching their International photography exhibition, ‘Trees and Sky’, in Turkey she was astounded!

“It is my subject,” she exclaimed, “I was thinking of hosting an exhibition called ‘Trees and Clouds’.

Tuncay Çöteloğlu is one of Turkey’s treasures. Born the daughter of an Ottoman officer and personal friend of Mustafa Kemal, she has always been close to the arts.

She studied painting, and the piano, before these were fashionable in Turkey, but her passion, since a young girl, is photography.

“There were no films when I started”, she explained, “My first images were made on glass plates”.

“Later I used film cameras. I always carry a camera with me even today I have one in my handbag.”

Tuncay indeed did have the small compact camera, which she purchased some twenty years ago. She shot a few frames just to prove that she hasn’t lost her touch.

She covers events as a news freelancer, and sometimes takes on commercial assignments. She is also an experienced curator having hosted over twenty exhibitions prior to moving to Selimiye, (Nr. Marmaris), sixteen years ago.

“I started working professionally during the 1960s”, she explained, “I had my own studio and processing lab back then.”

Tuncay Çöteloğlu is a past president of Istanbul Photography and Cinema Amateurs Club (IFSAK), which was founded in 1959. She was the sole female member back then and her name, which can be applied either to boys, or girls, (more frequently boys), sometimes caused confusion.

“How could this tiny woman with a smiling face be the president of anything, people asked?”

“At first we met in the reading rooms of mosques, there were twelve of us. Later, when I acquired my lab, we met there because I had room. But when the numbers grew then we had to find larger venues.”

“I chose photography because I like to pioneer new things”, Tuncay told Bray who had met with her to ask her advice about a test print he had made in preparation for for ‘Trees and Sky’.

“I have also been a hotel manager, the manager of a concrete manufacturing works, a sea captain, as well as a parent of course.”

“My first love is life, and my second photography.”

When she saw the test print, which measures 90 cms. across, Tuncay said, “It is beautiful. I like to photograph the sky and the trees in this way. Sometimes people don’t understand what I see when I point my camera at the clouds. But I see shapes like animals heads, and sometimes the skyline resembles the profile of Ataturk.”

“Look there’s the head of a wild-boar in your picture, right here!”