This selection of photographs celebrates the work of Carinthia West. Described as ” the epitome of a true Renaissance woman” by Muse magazine, Carinthia traveled the world with her liberated art-loving parents, then later, as a model, actress and photo-journalist in the late 1960’s and 70’s. From debutante to Chelsea girl to photo-journalist, both as observer and muse, hers is an unique perspective.

These photographs have recently been exhibited in Birmingham and the Isle of Wight, and will be shown in London in September. Here in Santorini, Carinthia shows five photographs from her archival collection; ‘Hanging Out’. Two are behind-the-scenes warm and personal photographs of friends from the rock aristocracy, one composed of an on-set image from the making of Steven Spielberg’s film ‘The Colour Purple’, and two from other moments in her life that she feels, reflect themes of past, memory, and nostalgia. As Muse wrote, “she was a free spirit wandering within these inspiring times with her camera, blissfully unaware that she was candidly recording icons and iconic moments of the times”….

I don’t feel I was any different from anyone else of my generation who experienced the ’60’s and 70’s. We were all in the dream together – rock ‘n’ roll music, lyrics, plus the visual arts, were the combined ingredients that defined the times”, she comments, “I just happened to take a few more photographs than most, that’s all”, or as Ronnie Wood says, ‘Carinthia took photos while we were getting on with life.
– Carinthia West

Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood, with baby Jesse Wood – Malibu – 1977

This is probably one of my all time favourite shots from my photographic archive entitled ‘Hanging Out’. It is one of several photographs I took of Ronnie and Mick clowning around with Ronnie and Krissie Wood’s newly born son Jesse. It was taken at Ronnie’s Malibu beach house in early 1977. I was a friend of both Krissie and Ronnie and stayed at their home for months. When I exhibit this picture, the young, in particular, are touched by the fact that the off screen persona of two of the supposedly wild and wicked Rolling Stones can be so relaxed and down-to-earth, but life with Mick and Ronnie was exactly that, full of jokes, snatches of song, and camaraderie. Every night at Ronnie’s was a party and there were some incredible jam sessions; The Band, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young, they all dropped by, and the music was sublime. That patterned sofa could tell a story too....

The ‘Colour Purple’ set – 1985

I was extremely fortunate to be allowed on Steven Spielberg’s set of ‘The Colour Purple’ in 1985, as a friend, Menno Meyjes, was adapting Alice Walker’s famous novel for the screen. Apart from being on set every day for a month, I rode horses and took photographs. One day I sat next to a friendly actress in the film who said she was only acting in her spare time as her ‘real love’ was a little cable tv show, back in her home town of Chicago. That actress was Oprah Winfrey, seen here in the pink dress under the shade of a big ‘ole Southern tree, resting between takes with other members of the cast. Years later, I interviewed her for Marie Claire magazine, and she was just as friendly.

Luciana’s Boots and Belt – 1975

Luciana Martinez de La Rosa was an extraordinary woman – painter, artist and muse, to Andrew Logan, himself a celebrated artist on the London scene in the 1970’s. Luciana had an incredible dress sense, and everyone turned their heads when she walked in to a room , her sleek pony tail of shiny black hair swinging, high black leather boots , pre – punk chain mail, and often a cigarette dangling from her red lips. I didn’t know her well, but enough to take this double exposure photograph of her shirt, belt and boots, and later receive a sultry ‘thank you’.

Sadly, Luciana died in the 1980’s, but looking at her red nails here my memory takes me back to a time of fun and parties in the 1970’s when everyone was young and beautiful…and no one ever thought they would, one day, pass on to another life.

The Laughing Vicar – 1976

This is the other side of death and sadness – the moment when something funny happens at a funeral and the mourners begin to laugh….perhaps remembering a humorous anecdote or celebrating the humour in the person who has died.

Who started this? Was it the vicar or a mourner saying something? Is this why in the theatre, the word for laughter at a serious moment is ‘corpsing’? We will never know, and I certainly can’t remember. Life and death, love and laughter, intertwine…

Carinthia West’s work is displayed as part of the Photography section of the Santorini Biennale.

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