Rejected for International Driver's License
License, January 1992
January 1992, Melbourne
In January 1992 I had almost finished my two year contract at the Crafts Council and was preparing for my next trip. I had done some driving lessons whilst living in London but failed my test as I was unable to reverse around a corner! After about one month at my job as Promotions Officer I was told that part of my responsibilities was to visit regional centres to offer our support to their craft guilds. I asked how I would get there when told I would be heading to a region with no public transport. When they realised I had no drivers license and realised that they had not ascertained that fact at the interview, (it was not a prerequisite of the job and they didn’t ask), they also realised they were stuck with me. They reluctantly paid for my driving lessons, some of which I did in their Toyota Hilux van. Thus, on my next trip away from home, keen and excited to be a driver, I thought I might need an international license. As it turned out it would be many years before I had the opportunity to drive outside Australia.
The first picture, I rejected, the second I found better, though why I found the nasty green tee-shirt acceptable for either photo is beyond me. It is a measure of how easily one could find a photobooth in those days that I was able to get to two very different machines, within walking distance, on the same afternoon.
May 1991, Melbourne
Less than a year and a half back home and I was already planning another overseas adventure. I had kept in touch with Moana, who had suggested we might go to Central America to study Spanish and continue our Latin American explorations. I didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation. When this picture was taken I was living in Buckingham Street in Richmond with Sarah, a newly qualified solicitor and vibrant, bon vivant. I spent many an hour monopolising the study in her house while developing and making new designs for my hobby greeting card business.
This May 1991 booth pic was for my passport in anticipation of the next journey. Could my lipstick get any more intense?
January 1990, Melbourne
Back in Australia I was still looking for work and staying at my parent’s home in East Bentleigh. Within a week or two of date of this picture, I had started working as Promotions Officer for the Crafts Council of Victoria, at the Meat Market Craft Centre in North Melbourne and found a place to live in East Brunswick.
Whilst at the Endell Street Place in London, I had been impressed with the quality and variety of hand made cards which we had bought from local craftspeople to sell in the shop. Having been unable to use my designing skills in making ceramics, I decided to put my creative drive to use by starting to make my range of stationery. During my last November working there, I designed a range of hand made Christmas cards which sold very well. The proceeds partly helped to pay for my South American travels. Once back in Melbourne I again began to tinker with some designs which I presented for consideration to a lovely lady in Chapel Street Prahran, who had just opened her own home wares and gift shop. With her advice on fashionable colours and presentation I developed a range of hand painted designs which I began to sell at craft and gift shops around town.
The photos above were taken at Spencer Street Station in Melbourne. I am wearing hand painted silk earrings (clip-ons, as I have never had pierced ears) which I purchased from the Endell Street Place. In answer to the question most often posed about this group of pics, my hair is tied back, not shorn.
28 October 1989
October 1989, France
After having stayed a few nights at the holiday home of the Holbrook family, in Normandy, I was dropped at a railway station by Del Holbrook and her kids, Rosie and Richie, to make my way to Paris. I believe I was on my way there to meet Moana for a four day exploration of the city, which marked the end of a 2 year 10 month period away from Australia. I would very soon be on a plane back home, to a new job and a new hobby that would become a part-time business.
This picture was taken at the train station at Abbeville in Picardie. It was the first time I chose the large portrait option in a photobooth.
81 Year Old Fred Bear
Please meet my teddy Fred, who currently lives on a bed in the spare room in Melbourne. He is a very old English bear who (not “which” – he is definitely a person) was given to my mother for her first birthday in May 1930.
Fred was made by Farnell in the UK. He was in fine condition when he was given to me. He had a growl that worked, soft padded paws of pale felt, with decorative stitching and a full coat of fur. He had his original eyes and snout. By the time I had finished loving him to death he was almost bald, had no nose and badly mangled pads. His eyes had been replaced numerous times. He was taken for some TLC to the “doll’s hospital” in the Block Arcade in Melbourne about 10 years ago. He is the fine specimen of bear-hood that you see above, thanks to their help.
I named Fred after Fredd Bear from a children’s TV show, the Magic Circle Club (1965-67) on Melbourne’s ATV Channel O. Fredd (Tedd Dunn) was a silent, big, cuddly bear, who I loved dearly. Mum took me to see the cast doing a live show at the Myer store at Chadstone. I was so thrilled to see him but too terrified to go on stage when they asked for children from the audience to participate. All the kids who went up received prizes. I have remembered and regretted my shyness of that day, ever since!
Fred came with me on an outing to the Jam Factory this year. We had gone for a morning treat but as the cafe didn’t have any pots of honey we decided to skip the Teddy Bear picnic and grab a few booth snaps instead.
It may be noted that I have written a good deal more about this loved creature than I have about my sister and brother. This is definitely due to the fact that teddy bears do not have good computer skills and thus he is unlikely to reprimand me for the quality of the pictures or for saying anything which may embarrass him.
Sue Griffiths (Top) and Fran
Please meet my sister Sue, who currently lives in Dublin, Ireland. This is the earliest photobooth photo that I have of my darling sister. I have many, many in my collection, including one which is probably my all-time favourite photobooth pic. More photos of Sue will be posted over time, if I can get away with it!
Sue, (alone in the top photo), is seen here with school friend Fran Doherty. According to Sue, they were both around 18 years old at the time this was taken, making the date of this picture 1986. I love the graffiti on the back screen of the booth.
Andrew Griffiths 1977
Please meet my brother Andrew, who currently lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. The above photo was taken in Melbourne when he was in fourth form in 1977. It is probably the only photobooth photo I have of him, but as there are still places to look for lurking remnants of my collection, there may be one or two more to discover.
This photo was on his bedroom pinboard for many a long year, so long in fact, that the felt-tip pen he had used to transform his visage, has mostly faded away. It is a testament to the quality of these old booth photos that after 34 years the only thing that faded was the additional “artwork”. From memory he was experimenting with future images and hair styles he might (and would) eventually adopt.
London, September 1989
London, September 1989 No.2
September 1989, London
On my return to London, I was again living with the Holbrook family in West Norwood but this time my co-inhabitants were two friends made on my travels, New Zealanders, Moana and Neil. Helen and I had met them in Peru and walked the Inca trail with Moana. We kept meeting up here and there with our last hoorah as a foursome, in Rio de Janeiro. Not a couple, Moana and Neil were two of the funniest and most adorable people we met in South America. As with Helen, Moana is still a good friend. Her photos will feature in future posts.
Two photos from the same strip, taken late in 1989, in a tube station somewhere in London. With slightly more colour in my face than my usual palour, I was looking healthy and feeling very happy.
Helen in Quito - 1 June 1989
This is the portrait of Helen White that I loved so much. I remember we laughed a lot at both of the images that resulted from our sitting at the Quito photography studio. The re-touching seemed to have transported us to another era. I found Helen’s delightful and yet somehow spooky, as if she had been morphed with a plastic doll. I also loved my second, hair out, result.
Quito Photo Studio, 18 May 1989
Quito Photo Studio 1 June 1989
Foto Gitano La Paz August 1989
South America, 1989
My collection includes any small portrait photograph, so where there were no booths, I sought out a studio photographer. I had exhausted my supply of photos taken in England, so after two months on the road with my English travelling companion Helen White, I decided to restock. The photo taken in May 1989, above, was the result of a sitting at a small atelier in Quito, Ecuador. At the time I hated this photo. I have never really liked my hair tied back. However, the fact that it had been re-touched enticed me to have another go. Helen was also intrigued by my first results, so two weeks later we headed back for my second sitting and Helen’s first. My vanity was satisfied by the second finished print. Helen’s was a masterpiece!
Some two months later, having again depleted my supply of visa ready photos, a.k.a. swap-pics, I again found a small studio to feed my developing habit. I didn’t choose as well, this time. The photos were poorly focused and developed. You can see the chemical stains in the scans. I didn’t think they would stand the test of time, yet here they are 22 years later looking as tatty and old as the day I got them.