JJ Waller
Artist Photographer in Residence

‘Your Town My Town’ – a snapshot in time

In association with Sidmouth School of Art we’re thrilled to welcome JJ Waller as Artist Photographer in Residence during Sidmouth Folk Festival. 

During JJ’s Sidmouth Residency he will be capturing a set of images that conjure a sense of place when the town plays host for our week of music, dance and song, in his inimitable style of street photography. This is JJ’s personalised snapshot in time – Your Town – and it’s only the start of the project!


Q&A Session – All welcome!

Tuesday 6th August, 2.30pm, Arts Centre (Manor Pavilion)

Q&A session with JJ Waller and Sidmouth School of Art’s founder David Shrigley
This will be an audience-led Q&A with spontaneous conversation, storytelling and insights into creative thinking and process. 
At this event, JJ will also launch a call to photographers – to submit an image for the public exhibition as part of Your Town My Town.

JJ explains more… ‘Photography challenged my creative comfort zone. Starting a new career in my forties was hugely exciting and slowly over time I have developed a working style that combines humour with my street encounters and observations. I’m very excited by the prospect of visiting and working in Sidmouth, it will be my first visit, everything will be completely fresh and new to me which suits my way of working perfectly.  On August the 6th I will also be doing a Q & A session, I don’t have a set talk – I like to let the audience set the flow of the dialogue, usually these interactions are great fun.’

An Open Call for images

Your Town My Town… an exhibition in the making

Deadline: 5pm Friday 23rd August

This is the My Town part of the project. You are invited to to submit a single photograph to create a body of work for the Your Town My Town exhibition. Anyone can submit an image to the project; Sidmouth residents and Festival visitors of any age – we positively welcome younger generations to take part. No experience, expertise, or special camera equipment is required! A smartphone image will do just fine.

Here’s the brief: an image taken during the Folk Festival that best describes Sidmouth, Your Town My Town. Open to your creative interpretation!

The deadline for submission of your image is two weeks after the festival to give you time to select your photo. Submit your photograph via email by 5pm Friday 23rd August.

Just email your image and include your name, age and contact details.  Feel free to say where it is and why you chose the image.

 In the autumn, JJ will return to Sidmouth to review and select images for the exhibition. A variety of sites will feature Your Town My Town images including bus shelters, telephone boxes and the Wallspace billboard by the Ham. 

A photo book will be created for the town as a legacy of the project.


From Street Performer to Street Photographer

Photographer JJ Waller will visit Sidmouth and the Folk Festival for the very first time in August 2024. His journey here has been eclectic and exciting, beginning during his years performing on the cobbles of London’s Covent Garden and spots as a regular at the newly established clubs in the early days of Alternative comedy. JJ won an Edinburgh Perrier Award with comedy pioneers Pookiesnackenburger (The originators of STOMP)  before joining the groundbreaking Anarchic French Cirque ArchaosWhilst at Archaos he once again partnered with ringmaster the late Ian Smith, an early influence on Sidmouth Festival’s collaborator David Shrigley. Whilst touring with the circus JJ began his very first photo documentation project, which led to him being offered a place on a new editorial photography degree course that was being set up by Magnum photographer Mark Power. JJ has produced over ten photography books and sold over 14,000  books. He is currently working on a new book of his Benidorm work. In May 2025 he will be partnering with photographer Martin Parr on a major public show.

JJ’s images regularly appear internationally in print and online publications, billboards, books,tour posters and programmes. See some of his work in these videos: Lockdown film and Seafront show.

JJ’s residency at Sidmouth Folk Festival is in collaboration with Sidmouth School of Art  a visual arts charity whose aim is to make Sidmouth the artwork.  Through a kaleidoscope of creative opportunities SSA is inspiring new artworks, creative confidence and new collaborations.

‘Your Town My Town’ is kindly supported by

The Sidmouth Folk Festival
Sidmouth School of Art
The Royal Glen Hotel
Cllr Stuart Hughes Locality Fund – Devon County Council

If you would like to sponsor the project please contact info@sidmouthart.org