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Andrew Bailey graphics 70-74, reflecting on a spontaneous walk in the park with his twin lens reflex Roleicord, a free-standing wardrobe mirror, one small stool & room mate Richard Nye in tow. 70/71

click on windows, mirrors, & faces to view the complete photo

Taking a reflection for a walk

I have contributed this small collection of photographs to the brilliant and wonderful BAA website, not because I am particularly proud of them, but because they fit into the category of Corsham memorabilia.

Furthermore, I found them again the other day in what remains of my now depleted 1970-74 portfolio which presently inhabits a dark space under my bed. They also constitute, in my view, a small visual snapshot of some memories from that era which over the years have surprisingly survived in all manner of tucked away places like dusty damp attics and house lofts, reluctantly defying the lure of the garbage dump as life events over the years coax us into clearing away hoarded and useless artefacts. The other reason for them having resurfaced into my present reality is that, thanks to Gerry McFarlane I have managed to make contact again after all these years with old time buddy, Richard Nye, the still very talented cartoonist and now professional animator.
Richard and I were paired up by the accommodations officer shortly prior to our first term at Corsham as graphics students, mainly because we were both from the Croydon area and secondly perhaps because we were both males and qualified to be placed in digs together in Pickwick Road in the abode of a Mrs Maskell, a veritably classic landlady worthy of caricature by Alan Bennet.

The photographs were taken one morning when our Foundation cohort were timetabled to assemble in the small studio adjacent to the Music Room next to the Court gatehouse. I cannot remember who the tutor was that day and perhaps he had not even turned up at this moment. This was a studio however where tutors such as Justin Knowles would attempt to transform our so called 'A' level art mentality (some more pronounced that others) with such concepts as drawing the spaces within and around three dimensional objects. Anyway, forgetting historical authenticity on this occasion, all I do remember is, armed with my twin lens reflex Roleicord, I grabbed hold of a battered old free-standing wardrobe mirror with its damaged silvering, a small stool with which to prop it up and, an obliging Richard Nye. All were invited to take a stroll in the park by the Church. These were some of the earliest photographs I had ever taken at Corsham and were printed in the Beechfield darkrooms with the words of Miss Barbara Luthy still resounding in my head, to make the prints with all shades of monochrome from true black through to true white. This probably explains why the prints are so dark and would have probably horrified the likes of photographic tutor Ewan Wannop, had I later approached him to make a half-tone image!

I cannot now, for the life of me remember what triggered this spontaneous walk in the park. Perhaps we had been asked to make some images associated with visual transformation or even I might have been about to perform some experiments on the subject of 'perceived reality'; alternatively, and more probably, I might just have wanted an excuse to go outside for a smoke. I have shared these pictures with Richard recently who seems to remember us having to avoid freshly laid cow-pats in the long grass that day and he also stated that I must have had little understanding of the twin lens parallax phenomena on this occasion, but then again he was always a cheeky chappy! To illustrate this last point, I have made some enlargements of his face in the mirror. The similar blow-up of my face however shows the demeanour of the 'serious' photographer albeit an image to emulate a portion of The Turin Shroud! Interestingly to me today when zooming in on the reflection of the church, was the sight of Ethelred House which I had not previously noticed.

The photograph of translucent glass jars or lamp shades, set against a stone mullioned window, was taken in the Corsham church tower one day in 1970. Our group of Foundation students had been set loose in the Court grounds one morning equipped with part of the Beechfield studio Mamiyaflex armoury. I remember entering the church and out of curiosity a few of us decided to climb a ladder which led us up into the bell tower. This picture has survived over the years more for reasons of my happy surprise at it's clarity rather than anything else. I remember having taken it on my Rollei aided by a brand new Smith and Weston light meter which had informed me to make the exposure for about a second or more. Holding the camera with what I have since considered to be remarkable steadiness, the aperture set on 'B', I was astonished to be able to get a clear depiction of such a poorly lit scene. I still to this day do not know what these glass-like objects were and why they had been stored there. My hunch is that they perhaps may have been shades used at an earlier time with gas lights. Perhaps Quasimodo has the answer!

The other photographs were taken inside Jilly Bushnell's room (graphics student and then first real girlfriend), in the hostel at number three Church Street. The other of a small kitten, named 'Shred', (so named after Golden Shred Marmalade, because he was an orange-ginger coloured tabby tom cat), is also included. Shred was sadly, a year or so later to end up on brown bread (metaphorically speaking, you understand), when he was run over by a car outside the flat at number eight High Street where I had a lovely room directly above the then, butcher's shop. I can still to this day recall the aromatic stench of the place which was at its height during the hot halcyon summer days.

Now I have thankfully got this all off my chest, and so... back to reality!

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Michael Woolls Blanco 61-65