Journalism was Tim's Malyon's life, and lead him to some of the farthest flung places on earth.
He was also a campaigning storyteller, and has highlighted socially relevant narratives and injustices throughout his long career.
A superb photographer, Tim also documented his travels with stunning images which breathe further life into his work.
Middle Coombe Farm
I first met Tim in 1980 It was a cold winter day In Leh market, snowing as I recall. A Jeep drew up and a passenger leant out and asked "are you Robert ffolks? I have just come back from walking down the the Chaddar and have been trying to find you" I was intrigued.
There were not many foreigners in Ladakh that winter and even fewer who had traveled along the frozen Zanskar river. Soon we were drinking tea in "Dada" Burman's restaurant at the end of Naushehra. Tim was full of questions and ideas. At that time I probably knew more about Ladakh than him. That did not last long. He has an enquiring mind and likes to dig deep into anything that Interests him. Over the next few years we did some very enjoyable trips together and it was often Tim who was introducing me to aspects of Ladakh that I had not really considered, helping me to expand my own interests beyond a rather narrow focus on my work with Save The Children Fund. For that I will always be grateful. Of course Tim often made his own journeys as well but we travelled together to many parts of Ladakh staying in villages and talking to chance met people on the road as well as looking at the projects that l was responsible for. On his many iourneys, Tim took some of the best photographs of Ladakh that l know, many of them commissioned by Save The Children Fund.
Tim has taken some of his best and most evocative pictures in Chilling and in the smaller villages in the Sumdha valley which runs up from the Zansker river to the Gonski-la pass. I suspect that this is a very favourite area for him. At the time of his first visits this was not an easy area to get to know The villages were remote and still difficult to reach. Chilling itself was a two day journey from the Indus valley along narrow rocky paths where even a donkey could not carry baggage all the way. Reaching the higher villages meant wading streams thigh deep and crossing screes which slipped under ones feet. The older people especially were suspicious of strangers and often very conservative. They kept a visitors at a distance until until he or she was deemed trustworthy. Tim was able to overcome their doubts by his obvious interest and enthusiasm for all that he saw and heard and his empathy and growing affection for the people he met. Soon he had fast friends in every village. This enabled him to take the photographs that for me epitomise the world of the high Ladakhi villages, in world now changing fast.
I especially like a wonderful series of photographs of the metal workers of Chilling and their craft which is now on display in the Village. Tim, perhaps more than anyone, brought this ancient craft to the notice of the the outside world. In every village he investigated and studied the monasteries and other aspects of the culture and encouraged the villagers to take a greater interest too and to think more about the conservation of their heritage. This was sometimes difficult. Efforts to preserve and protect the "Gokpo"- the precious seven hundred year old wooden statue Of Chamba, which is the protector of Sumdha Chenmo proved endlessly frustrating. It was too soon for local people to consider interfering with such a sacred relic. Tim wisely bided his time, but he started a train of thought that some years later lead to a younger generation of villagers to take steps to protect the Gokpo on their own initiative and using their own resources. Apart from his photographs, Tim's most valuable contribution to Ladakh has been what he has contributed to encouraging village people to take an interest in their villages, not in a scholarly way but as part of a living culture, which needs to be sustained. This he has done through his own enthusiasm and, I think, love for Ladakh and it's people.
Sir Robert Francis Alexander ffolkes