St Patrick’s Day

It’s taken me a week to get round to writing about St Patrick’s Day, mainly because I’ve been busy working taking other pictures and getting them on line since. If you want to keep up with what I’m doing then much of it appears on Demotix, and I post updates  on my work on Twitter and Facebook. Here I try to reflect on things a bit more rather than simply cover events, and that takes time and sometimes there isn’t a great deal to reflect on.

St Patrick’s Day was a little different for me this year because I went to it with a photographer who has made covering these parades one of his specialities, although mostly in the USA where they take these things rather more seriously. And who comes from an American-Irish family and grew up in the the Bronx. I first saw John Benton-Harris’s pictures in ‘Creative Camera‘ many years ago and he had a fine portfolio in one of their year books, but little of his work is currently available, which is a great loss. I can only find 3 images on the web, none well reproduced, one from Derby Day and two (click on the thumbnails to see them) from St Patrick’s parades.

Before the parade John and I went to a couple of exhibitions, one the ‘History of Photography‘ on fairly permanent display at the V&A which seemed very much not to be a history of photography but some rather random items from their large collection (and perhaps mainly chosen for their size.)   There are a few interesting images but it’s hard to see any particular justification for the particular selection. A couple seemed to be rather poor prints – the Robert Frank is damaged and the Don McCullin seemed rather too dark, and there were a few that the only justification for their presence was that they represented the fact that many photographs are bad. It did cheer me up a little to find that several of the better pictures were by photographers I know or have met. The one image that stood out for both John and I was probably the smallest in the show, Dorothea Lange’s ‘White Angel Bread Line.’

Also in the gallery is an exhibition about the first ever museum exhibition of photographs, held at the V&A in 1858.  Consisting of work from the Photographic Society of London and the Société française de photographie  there were the huge number of 1009 photographs on show, and you would have had to get down on your hands and knees to see some and stand on a chair to see others as they were hung 5 or 6 prints high from about six inches to what at a guess is around 7 foot. The photograph of some of them by the museum’s photographer is the earliest known photograph of a photographic exhibition.

We also dropped in to the Michael Hoppen gallery in Chelsea on our way to the V&A, but neither of us was impressed by the pictures of fashion photographer Fernand Fonssagrives (1910-2003), most of which were of his first wife, Lisa with her elegant torso covered with shadow patterns.  It was something that Man Ray had played with earlier (and I suspect others too) but I couldn’t see any great interest in the work though some of the other pictures were of more interest. Lisa Fonssagrives became rather more famous as a model and after their marriage ended in 1950 she married Irving Penn, while Fernand went to Spain and became a sculptor.

And yes, I did take some pictures in Kilburn. Perhaps the one I like best is this:

© 2010, Peter Marshall

though there are others, particularly some of the kids and the old ladies that have a charm (and sometimes an Irish charm.)

© 2010, Peter Marshall

And I quite like this one of the English saint whose day it is.  (The Irish of course came and kidnapped him from Somerset.)  More pictures on My London Diary.

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