John was born on October 27th 1864 in the "Burgess Hill" area of the English South Downs, Sussex, living in the village of Keymer and born to Issac Wickens a Carpenter and 'Journeyman' and his wife Amelia (Hamlin).
Around 1881 John was living in Brighton and learning his trade as an apprentice photographer. From there John moved to Tonbridge where he met the daughter of the Bangor photographer John Williams. At the age of 21 he married Elizabeth Williams on 5th April 1885 (at Steyning, Sussex) soon after relocating to North Wales
John and Elizabeth moved to Bangor in 1886 and took over his father in laws premises/home at 10 The Crescent before setting up shop in 2 College Road, which he named the 'Retina Studio' in 1895.
Wickens became a prolific and successful photographic artist, winning contacts with the colleges and also generating income from postcards, books and personal photography.
Sadly John became blind in 1916, his work was continued by his daughter Amilia and son-in-law G D Evans.
John died aged 71 on 22nd June 1936, he was buried at Glanadda Cemetery, Bangor.
An exhibition of works by photographer John Wickens (1864-1936) can be seen at Oriel Pendeitsh, Caernarfon until 27 April 2014.
In this exhibition which celebrates 150the anniversary of the birth of the Bangor photographer, John Wickens, a small selection of his work can be seen which forms part of the photographic collection from Gwynedd Council’s Archives Service.
John Wickens was one of four photographers working in Bangor at the turn of the last century. His photographs were show at many exhibitions including exhibitions organised by the Royal Photographic Society at the Crystal Palace, and the art and craft exhibitions at the National Eisteddfod. John Wickens was also commissioned to take a number of official photographs as well as portraits of local dignitaries such as David Lloyd George.
Councillor John Wyn Jones, Gwynedd Council’s Economy Cabinet Member said:
“This is a great opportunity to experience the work of one of the best known photographers in the area at the turn of the last century.
“I would encourage anyone who’s interested in local history to visit the exhibition to see some special photographs that reflect local people’s everyday working and social lives during this period, as well as local landscapes.”
Admission to Oriel Pendeitsh is free, and the gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10:30am–3:30pm and daily from 14 April onwards between 9:30am–4.30pm.
Needless to say I missed the exhibition by nearly 2 years! (I live in Kent and hadn't checked the detail for a while). I wonder if there was a catalogue of the exhibition that may still be available somewhere?