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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.

Visa Photo 1989

March 1989, London

This photo was taken in a photobooth in a camping goods store near Covent Garden Market in 1989, just prior to my departure from London for a 6 month trip to South America.  As the guide book had recommended having several strips of passport sized photographs ready for each border crossing and visa extensions (if needed), I sat in the booth for 5 successive strips, all very much alike but with this po-faced expression getting sourer each time.  The booth was an incredibly busy one.  I had to wait for two other sitters to get their pics taken before it was my turn.  I remember feeling quite annoyed by a pair of Australian girls who were next in the queue.  They were loudly taking the mickey out of me for taking so many photos of myself at one go.  My expressions reflected my growing irritation.

This is only one of two that I have left from the trip.  As predicted, I needed many of the photos for my travels and I traded many with other travellers.  I hope the recipients do not remember me in quite the way the I am depicted in the photos.

Rogue Gallery

I bought this page from an old photo album on Ebay recently.  The seller’s description was none too flattering to the subject, which was what attracted me to look at the listing in the first instance.  From notes on the back of the page (which has two dilapidated box brownie snaps still attached), I know this lady’s name is Esther, she had a sister or friend called Ethel and that these photos were taken around 1936, possibly in West Michigan USA.

I love Esther.  She may not be a classical beauty but she has style, poise and a serene dignity that I find very appealing.  She obviously had a thing for photobooths, another reason to admire her!

London 1988

Travel Card 1988

January 1988, London

Having left Australia with an idea that I would be away for no more than 6 months, I was as surprised as anyone to find myself a London resident 12 months on.  I had been encouraged by other ex-pat residents at Driscoll House to look for some work to subsidise my travels.  I found an advertisement for a part-time job at a new craft gallery in Covent Garden, applied, was offered and accepted full-time work as a gallery assistant and ended up managing the retail space within 6 months.  I looked at one advertisement, made one phone call, had one interview and secured a job in one day.   I stayed for 2 years and 2 months.  The Endell Street Place was a craft shop, gallery and studio complex in Endell Street, Covent Garden.  The centre showcased the best of British craft while offering the opportunity to see the artist/craftspeople making the work on site.  I met my future travelling companion Helen White, while working there.

After my month in Elephant and Castle I moved further south to West Norwood where I was a boarder, initially with three other Australians and one Brazilian.  I developed a very close bond with my hosts the Holbrook family and remain friends with them to this day.  Since meeting them in Feburuary 1987, I have never stayed anywhere else on all my many subsequent trips to London.  They have very kindly given me numerous photobooth pictures of themselves, that I will post on this blog, at some time in the future.

The photo above was taken at a booth at South Kensington tube station.  At this time I was still only taking booth photos for a specific purpose.  This photo was used in the id, which replaced the, temporarily, mislaid one from January 1987.  This is the first of the photographs posted on this blog, to show me wearing clothes that are neither home-made, second-hand or borrowed!

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