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Gallery/Dealer Details - Langley ImagesAlthough John Langley has been taking photographs from a teenager with shots used by companies such as Littlewoods Stores, the focus of his work has been mostly building a collection of library photographs and undertaking private commissions.
In truth, he has been taking photographs from early childhood but never really took it seriously until much later on, then fell back into it by accident when he landed a job on a Sunday newspaper, selling display space to businesses in Brighton and East Sussex.
He found a niche, jumped on the opportunity and resigned to start his own agency. From there it mushroomed and he ventured on a business path which took him into radio presenting; night club promotion, entertainer and stand up comic; model agent and hire studio proprietor; entertainment agent, manager and live entertainment promoter; photo library proprietor; radio commercial writer and producer; magazine publisher; satirist; copywriter; media buyer, and numerous other entrepeneurial projects of his own initiative, and those of his varied clients.
It was a lifestyle of excesses in sex, drugs, booze, materialism, and high living, which ended abruptly in complete burn out after years of running 24/7 on alcohol vapour, and little in the way of nutrition. But behind the success and failure lay something much darker. Which wasn't to reveal itself for many years to come.
No one could have foretold the journey thereafter. It is a story of destitution, despair, pain and suffering, stemming from a staunch Roman Catholic upbringing and a tyrannical Irish, alcoholic mother. It is a story of one person's life-long battle against all odds, to become a survivor and champion for change in NHS mental health at national level in England.
But best of all it's a story of how a person turned his diagnosis of Personality Disorder around from life threatening to life saving: through photography and the arts.
He communicates best through his photographic observations of life: the people he meets along the way, and the places visited. Everything captured is in some way reflective of himself; his journey, or state of mind at the time of pressing the shutter release button and capturing that moment of time.
Borderline Personality Disorder (B.P.D) swings like a pendulum between opposites of ten past and ten to. Too far either way can lead to spiralling depression, self-harm, and potentially fatal consequences for the sufferer. So twenty-five past and twenty-five to provide the safest boundaries within which John Langley leads a life of relatively comfortable existence, while his son and photography are the essential exit strategies from the challenges of B.P.D - which now keep him alive.
He wasn't clinically diagnosed as having B.P.D, until 2003, and describes the years from childhood to then as "interesting", and "educational". This is a surprising response from someone who, despite being physically and emotionally trashed repeatedly for years, has come out the other end a more humble, accepting, philosophical, and ironically, balanced person. There isn't a trace of anger, bitterness, or resentment. Instead there is acceptance, humour, warmth, an abundance of spirituality, wisdom, and hard won University of Life experience.
"John is an exceptional person - I would describe him as visionary. His contributions are characterised by his ability to 'think outside of the box' and challenge many of the old assumptions.
John's main strength, apart from his intellectual and creative abilities, is his attitude towards his diagnosis - personality disorder. Not only does he not allow it to limit his life, but he views it as something very positive, giving him access to greater levels of creativity and insight.
Mahatma Gandhi said, 'Be the change you want to see. Groups and organisations which engage John on a consultancy basis have the opportunity to reach their full potential".
"I could write so much that I find it really difficult to be able to consolidate, condense everything I would like to say into a page....or even 2!!
John has great qualities. He provides enormous support to those around him, like a library book. Reference - clarification confidence - learning.
To provide such-and-more to others for them to move on is indeed a great skill. He has it. He has many others.
He is also unique. I know we are all
'difference'. Personally I celebrate, enjoy, relish, promote difference. No! Something further - deeper - beyond. John is a very unique, special, complex, whole person who may not always sit very comfortably with himself, or others. But that's ok.
His humour has a great ambiguity; at times it opens doors; at times it closes them. I guess balance is a healthy choice. Something I still seek. John's can be quite radical, alternative, unpredictable, extreme, shocking and surprising.
John has so much talent, yet is incredibly modest. I don't for one minute believe he's reached his full potential, though he's heading down the right road. I'm sure he will get there and it will be mind-blowing when he does - for himself and all those around him."
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