An Affectionate Archive
10th February – 30th April
Carinthia West is a photographer and a writer, who, through her early career as an actress and model became part of the 70s celebrity scene. Armed with her beloved Canon camera, with its “lucky” red strap, she travelled through the iconic years of the 1970’s, as Muse magazine wrote; “a free spirit, blissfully unaware that she was candidly recording icons and iconic moments of the times”
Carinthia has been, and remains friends with, some of the 20th century’s greatest names from music, film and society including Anjelica Huston, Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Ronnie Wood, Robin Williams, Neil Young, David Bowie, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, Helen Mirren (with whom she shared a flat) and James Taylor, photographing the backstage moments of their lives.
Some of these images were featured in the iconic documentary of the Rolling Stones “Crossfire Hurricane “ as a montage of informal shots of Ronnie Wood, family and friends on a carefree holiday in the South of France. Mick Jagger comments “I’ve never seen people look unhappy in her photographs. They always look like they’re having a good time!”….
This exhibition focuses on some of the icons that she “hung out” with “The aim of showing my photographs is to give a glimpse of how we lived then. I think of it as an affectionate archive of a more innocent time. It is intended to inspire the young photographer to look around at their world and capture that fleeting moment before life moves on as it always does.”
For many years, West pursued other talents; writing humorous pieces, conducting interviews, and writing articles as contributing editor to British, Asian and American Magazines. Thousands of slides and negatives languished in shoe boxes until she started to look at them again and transfer them from her kitchen table to the walls of galleries, culminating in major exhibitions at The San Francisco Art Exchange, LA’s KM Fine Arts, galleries in Chicago and New York, Dimbola Lodge, Isle of Wight, London’s Library Space. Most recently a major retrospective of her work exhibition “Shooting Stars” opened in May 2021 at the American Museum and Gardens in Bath, and was extended to the end of December ‘due to popular acclaim’,
Included among the images are pensive unposed portraits of Mick Jagger; Monty Python’s Eric Idle playing guitar with Ronnie Wood; Sissy Spacek and Shelly Duvall on the film set of Robert Altman’s 3 Women; Neil Young and his son Zeke, at his Woodside ranch; Bonnie Raitt in Colorado playing volley ball with friends, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott on the Kings Road, a set of prints of Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood in Cedars Sinai Hospital, LA awaiting the birth of Ronnie’s first child, and the photos she took from the sidelines of the Pink Floyd’s legendary cover shoot for the album Animals, shot at Battersea Power Station. Seven of her black and white stills from that shoot are now blown up and touring the world in the Pink Floyd exhibition “Their Mortal Remains” which opened at the V&A and is now in Los Angeles. Nick Mason comments “Nowadays you’d Photoshop the pig, so its great to have Carinthia’s photos to remind us that the pig cut loose its moorings on the day and flew away, ultimately landing in a field in Kent”
A proposed documentary, Hanging Out, about the life and times of Carinthia West, is being produced and directed by Iceland’s Saga Films, producer Margret Jonasdottir remarks “exploring Carinthia’s rare archive has been a rich adventure filled with the warmth of the relationships that surround her. It’s clear she has many friends who care a great deal about her and Carinthia’s photos testify to the depth of that genuine caring.”
Quotes from a selection of Carinthia’s friends and media articles will be used in the Hanging Out Documentary. Here are just a few….
Anjelica Huston, actress: “It takes Carinthia’s kind of eye to see the inner workings, not just the ‘hair and make-up’ story – for her it was a kind of record of a generation…”
Ronnie Wood, musician: “Carinthia took photos while we were getting on with our lives.”
Sir Bob Geldof, musician: “I like the ones of Mick. There is no artifice to them… It’s great to see Jagger just being himself – a geezer having a laugh.”
Vanity Fair Magazine, “Carinthia’s first American exhibition capture’s intimate celebrity moments that are nearly non-existent in today’s tabloid saturated age”