Jonty Wilde

Born and raised on the Wirral, near Liverpool, Jonty Wilde’s future was set from age 15, when his father bought him a Ricoh KR-10 SLR camera that led him to a weekend photography course in which, for the first time in his school life, he excelled. Photography became his obsession and initially with very modest means – buying and selling camera gear and constantly upgrading – he gradually built a body of equipment that allowed him to work professionally. Alongside the camera upgrades he moved from school to art and technical college where he studied advertising and editorial photography and from working in holiday camps to agency work, building his portfolio. These pragmatic beginnings formed a solid technical foundation but the understanding and sense of place, of the object in space, of light within the photographic plane is uniquely his; his eye is paramount.

Wilde’s practice is diverse. He has worked for Manchester City Council, branding the city through it’s student Olympic games, and for Manchester United football club, his enthusiasm for architecture and cityscapes bringing a particular enjoyment and edge to these assignments. He has captured and created powerful images of public people – Michael Palin, James Turrell, Grayson Perry, Maxine Peake and Antony Gormley amongst many others. Photographing the great Peruvian writer and politician Mario Vargas Llosa remains a highlight of his career. Wilde’s ebullient personality, his love of people, of history and current affairs, enables his sitters to enter into a photographic collaboration. 

Following the end of Ceausescu’s regime in Romania, in 1991 Wilde was commissioned by an NGO to document the devastating plight of children in the country’s many orphanages. Over the successive decades he has visited over 70 countries, from Albania to Zambia. His editorial commissions have taken him to document AIDS mothers and their babies in South Africa, water aid in Mozambique, and rescued child-soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and South Sudan. In 2004 he was flown to Sri Lanka and Thailand to record the disastrous Tsunami and again in 2007 to Japan to document the devastation caused by that seismic sea wave. Twice he travelled to Kosova during its war with Serbia, to record a medical mission, and he covered the aftermath of the Nagorno-Karbach conflict with Azerbaijan. He is one of only a few outsiders to gain access to North Korea and to an Arirang Festival of the then Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-il and he photographed those who continue to be affected by the Chernobyl nuclear fallout within the Exclusion Zone. In Sarajevo, Kenya, Iraq and Afghanistan he has chronicled the work of surgeons in field hospitals and in Iraq came face to face with bandits. Wilde’s admiration for the Antonov 124-100, the world’s second largest airplane and the carrier of emergency and life-supporting supplies around the world – in which he has often travelled – led to a personal project that comprises a unique portrait of an aircraft, the only one of its kind in the world.

Throughout his career, photographing sculpture and especially sculpture outdoors has been an abiding passion. Working with weather conditions and natural light, on occasion amplifying the light, he brings to the fore the physical characteristics of a sculpture in its setting. Monumental bronzes by Henry Moore are emphatic statements that reflect the landscape and sky in which they sit. Over a number of years, Wilde has worked with Brooklyn-based artist KAWS, forming a partnership that has taken him to New York, Amsterdam, London, Qatar, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Toronto to photograph major exhibitions. A shared passion for family, architecture, design and high production values binds a working relationship and friendship.

For thirty years Wilde has produced images of Yorkshire Sculpture Park and he, more than almost anyone, understands the light, land and spaces of this 500-acre landscape. His work for the YSP collection, exhibitions and publications by artists including David Smith, Joan Miró, Kimsooja, Fiona Banner, Joana Vasconcelos and Giuseppe Penone has given the museum an exceptional record of projects, but also of the seasons and weather conditions that are inherent in making it such a special place. 


KAWS: GONE, Skarstedt, New York, NY, USA
KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness at NGV, Melbourne, Australia
KAWS: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
KAWS: BLACKOUT, Skarstedt, London, UK
Anthony Cary at Cliveden ( Blain Southern )
Kenny Hunter: Natural Selection, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
Barbara Hepworth: The Plasters, The Hepworth, UK
Peter Randall-Page: At Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
Rob Ryan: You can still do a lot with a small brain, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
YMEDACA: Hester Reeve, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
David Nash at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
James Turrell Deer Shelter: An Art Fund Commission, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
Andy Goldsworthy at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
Sarah Staton: Shocks, Sucks, Sticks, Sticks, Stacks
Simon Armitage: The Twilight Readings, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
Waterloo Sunset at the Hayward Gallery
Lynn Chadwick: The Sculptures at Lypiatt Park
Winter/Hörbelt UK Projects: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
CARO IN YORKSHIRE: Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth, UK
MIRÓ: SCULPTOR, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
NOT VITAL: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
FIONA BANNER: WPWPWP, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
Henry Moore Plasters: The Henry Moore Foundation, UK
JAUME PLENSA: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
JAUME PLENSA: One Thought Fills Immensity
JAUME PLENSA: TOGETHER, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
LYNN CHADWICK at Cliveden ( Blain Southern ), UK
Bernar Venet at Cliveden ( Blain Southern ), UK
Henry Moore: Back to a Land, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK

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