Holidays and Norman Parkinson photographic exhibition

I have had a four week break from my course as I have been on holiday in India and Bhutan but nonetheless have been very active taking photographs. I kept a blog of the trip ( with photos and with links to photos I have published onFlickr. I feel I have incorporated some of the techniques I have learnt in Part one of the course. I was particularly pleased with the opportunities in Kolkata and once past the first few photos (which are included to tell the story) there are some wonderful pictures of the people in the flower market and the old part of Kolkata ( In fact it was photos of people at markets throughout the trip that most excited me.

I got back in to the swing of my course yesterday with a visit to an exhibition in Bath marking the centenary of Norman Parkinson’s birth. The exhibition, which was curated by the French fashion designer Roland Mouret, was entitled “Mouvements de Femmes”.

Exhibition website

It was a very impressive exhibition in The Octogan as part of “Bath in Fashion 2013”. Bath served as a backdrop for several of Parkinson’s shoots and I particularly liked the way in which Parkinson used “the graceful curves and elegant proportions of Bath’s architecture as a breathtaking backdrop to his images” (quote from exhibition brochure).

I liked the theme of the exhibition “Mouvements de Femmes”. Mouret chose the collection “not so much because they are fashionable, instead more for how the women moved within them”. I have two favourites from the exhibition: one, “The Art of Travel”,  of a women beneath the propellers of an aircraft at a Nairobi airstrip and the other the iconic photo “New York New York” which featured Parkinson’s neighbours Pippa Diggle and Robin Millar, running joyfully towards Parkinson’s camera with the Manhattan  skyline silhouetted behind them. Both these photos are superb in the positioning of people in a “travel” context.

(A few days after I saw an excellent BBC “Arena” programme on Norman Parkinson which is well worth viewing.)

Following this exhibition I went to a book signing by Kaffe Fassett where he was promoting his latest textiles book. Kaffe Fassett is an American-born artist who is best known for his colourful designs in the decorative arts—needlepoint, patchwork, knitting, painting and ceramics. I saw good examples of the powerful use of colour in fabrics in India and Bhutan and Fassett’s insistence that the use of colour in art is essential has some bearing in photography (but clearly not black and white photography) and something I tried incorporating into my photos in India.

I also managed a short visit to Bath Abbey where there were several exhibitions; one with some very colourful diptychs by Sue Symons and another which particularly grabbed me  “Saint Bartholomew Exquisite Pain” by Damien Hirst, very much in the style of his “Verity” which I had seen at Ilfracombe earlier in the year.


I am currently reading two books on photography “Art and Photography” by David Campany which is putting into perspective the major schools and styles of photography, but whose language  I must confess I find difficult. The other, which I find much more accessible, is Henri Cartier Bresson’s  “The Mind’s Eye” – Writings on Photography and Photographers”. Both these books, however, are very different from others that I have read on the reading list and are proving challenging and rewarding.


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