“A work of art does not answer questions, it provokes them; and its essential meaning is in the tension between the contradictory answers.” Leonard Bernstein

I am an artist and educator based in Oxfordshire. I situate my practice in expanded photography, particularly the exploration of photography as a medium of material interaction. Photography is my first language, its materials and processes the tools in which I feel the most freedom to play.

My concern is with the elemental, I make images that, while abstract, are also somehow familiar. I work with colour photographic films and papers, but I use only chemistry and surface, allowing the innate characteristics of fluid motion to find their natural form. I am looking for an emotional resonance that embodies the beauty that exists in those elements of nature that we each find in a singular moment of personal connection.

The striations of colour running through rock, the hues of the late sky reflected in the surface of wind ruffled water, layers of lichen, their feathered edges against the dark bark, the streak of light breaking under a stormy sky, the delicate detail of a microscopic organism, all infinite in their variation. The materials, natures force, and I collaborate, each finding our own place in the process. I am also interested in scale at both a macro and micro level, my images can be experienced as a whole but also in their smallest detail. 

I specifically work with obsolete colour photographic papers and films that are decades old, yet still vibrant with colour and possibility, which might otherwise be redundant. Being able to transform them into something new. To breathe new life into them fills me with joy.

Underlying my work is my need to be sustainable and to acknowledge my individual responsibility to my community and the wider world. I work collaboratively as part of an interdisciplinary community of artists interested in finding more sustainable approaches to art making, with an emphasis on reducing environmental impact and developing ecologies of sustainable practice.

My practice is informed and supported through the integration of my artist-teacher identities. My teaching draws on both pedagogic and andragogic strategies to co-create the learning environment. I am committed to the value art brings to both individuals and communities, not just engagement with works of art but more so, the practice of art. I am particularly interested in the role art practice can play in developing personal confidence, analytical thinking, critical discourse, cultural and political awareness, and places of connection in the wider community.

My socially engaged practice is expressed through my involvement with community arts organisations. I have run a community darkroom in east Oxford and I deliver workshops through Fusion arts, OVADA, Art at The Old Fire Station, The Pitt Rivers Museum, and Oxford Summer School among many. My workshop program focuses on alternative and experimental approaches, exploring a wide range of sustainable photographic practices.


John A. Blythe was born and raised in East London and Essex and became passionate about photography at an early age, experimenting widely and developing a research based abstract approach. In his childhood and early adulthood Blythe spent several extended periods in India and credits this experience as having a formative influence on his sense of light and colour. Having spent over 20 years working as a commercial photographer Blythe started teaching in 2010, graduated PGDip (ArtEd) in 2016, and went on to complete a Master of Fine Art in Fine Art from Oxford Brookes University in 2019. Blythe divides his time between teaching and his studio in East Oxford.

In 2017 Blythe was awarded an artist development grant by OVADA (Oxford Visual Arts Development Agency) for his ongoing project ‘A little light’, which led to his first joint show Accord at The Old Fire Station Gallery, Oxford. Blythe has since exhibited widely, including at the CICA Museum, Gyeonggi-do, Korea; the Bath Photography Festival; Siggrou 24 Project Space, Thessaloniki, Greece; gallery@oxo, Southbank, London; Zuleika Gallery, Woodstock, (awarded joint ‘best in show’); The Fabric of Photography at The Old Fire Station Gallery, Oxford, curated by Megan Ringrose; Out of the Box – BBK Art Space, Bonn, Germany and Der Greif 15th Anniversary Exhibition – “Contextualise”, Pinakothek Der Moderne, Munich, Germany. Blythe’s work has been published in Art Seen Magazine, LandEscape Magazine, The Flux Review, Humana Obscura, and in the book This Is (Still) Not A Solution and is held in private and institutional collections worldwide.

Blythe continues to develop his research practice. He studied the wet plate collodion process and salt printing with Michael Schaaf and has held several residencies including ‘Remove’ with London Alt Photography Collective/Guest Projects; ‘Test.Grow.Teach.Learn’ with LAPC, and ‘Sustainable Arts Lab’ with Fusion Arts. Most recently, Blythe has been Artist in Residence at the University of Derby School of Art from 2019-2020 and 2021-2022.

Alongside his practice, Blythe taught photography at Queen Anne’s School, Caversham (2010-2013), worked as Module Leader of Foundation Photography at Bellerby’s College Oxford (2011 -2017), and currently teaches photography at d’Overbroeck’s College Oxford. Blythe lectures, mentors, and runs workshops specialising in sustainable and experimental approaches to photography. Recognised as an expert in his field, Blythe appeared in the BBC’s Celebrity Antiques Road Trip in 2021 to talk about Anna Atkins and the history of the Cyanotype photographic process.

Follow me on Social Media