John A. Blythe was born and raised in East London and Essex and became enthralled with photography at an early age, experimenting widely and developed a personal style focused on abstraction. In his childhood, Blythe spent several extended periods in India and credits this experience as having a formative influence on his sense of light and colour. In the late 1980’s Blythe studied with the renowned artist/photographer Rotimi Fani Kayode and went on to establish a professional commercial photography career, working from his south London studio and producing high-profile campaigns with advertising and design agencies for over 20 years. Keen to return to his fine art interests, 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.
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 join show Accord at The Old Fire Station Gallery, Oxford. Blythe has since exhibited widely, including the CICA Museum, Gyeonggi-do, Korea; the Bath Photography Festival; Siggrou 24 Project Space, Thessaloniki, Greece; gallery@oxo, Southbank, London; Zuleika Gallery, Woodstock, (awarded ‘best in show’) and most recently in The Fabric of Photography at The Old Fire Station Gallery, Oxford. Blythe has been published in Art Seen Magazine, LandEscape Magazine, The Flux Review, Humana Obscura and This Is (Still) Not a Solution and his work 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. Blythe also held the position of 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 runs the Fusion Arts community darkroom in East Oxford, 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.