Carinthia West – ‘West With the Wight’

Carinthia West – ‘West With the Wight’

The Carinthia West exhibition is now underway at Dimbola Museum and Galleries until 1st July 2012. So here’s more information from Dimbola, in their own words – Eds.

Carinthia West is best known as a journalist, as for many years has been a contributing editor for magazines such as Marie-Claire, Harper’s Bazaar and Tatler, as well as writing for the Telegraph, Independent, and many other magazines. In “a previous lifetime” in the 1970’s and ’80’s she modeled, acted, and “hung out” with friends and family, taking photographs on her trusted Canon camera with their permission.

Friends included a handful of  the Rolling Stones, actresses like Helen Mirren and Anjelica Huston, singer-songwriters like Carly Simon, James Taylor, Paul Simon and David Bowie, and actor-comedians such as Robin Williams, as well as many other less famous friends. Locations included American film sets, French street markets, Malibu beaches, London parks, or wherever else she happened to be, including landscapes on the Isle of Wight.Portrait of Carinthia West By Mirella Ricciardi

Her connections with the Island go back five generations – her mother’s family, the Moretons, (descended from the Earls of Ducie), founded Bembridge on the east coast. On her father’s retirement, they built a modern house on the beach. It was from here she struck out and travelled the world, ultimately landing in London, where she now lives.

For this exhibition, she brings some of those friends and memories home to the island – either in her candid behind-the-scenes photographs of many recognizable faces or paraphernalia she has collected on her travels. Apart from fond island memories of building sandcastles on the beach, she also remembers hearing Jimi Hendrix play ‘Star Spangled banner’ at the 1970 IoW festival, and displays some of the clothes, badges and backstage passes from those hippy days, as well as some of her great grandmother’s fascinating Edwardian clothes and later photo albums . She will also show a selection of the 1960’s art which hung in the West home in the 1970’s, album covers in which she featured (Robert Palmer’s ‘Pressure Drop’) or album covers she shot (Gary Farr – Deep Purple) as well as drawings and portraits of her by Rolf Harris, Ronnie Wood, Feliks Topolski, to name a few.

Shot herself by some of the great fashion photographers of the time ( Bailey, James Wedge, Patrick Lichfield and Mario Testino), she claims she was a “terrible model” and is far more interested in the present and future than the past, and was recently described as ” the epitome of a true Renaissance woman” by Muse magazine. Never intending any of these photos to see the light of day, and horrified by the intrusion of paparazzi type photos in the modern age, she sees this exhibition as an affectionate reflection of a pre-Facebook, pre-Photoshop more innocent time. “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”. As Muse magazine 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”….

Dimbola Museum and Galleries exhibition builds on recent shows in Stratford on Avon and Birmingham, as well as a smaller one at Quay Arts in 2010. Her photographs are now going to be shown in London in June, and San Francisco in October.  Ronnie Wood, the Rolling Stone guitarist says, ‘Carinthia took pictures while we were getting on with life”.