During the Rock Legends exhibition we had many wonderful conversions with people reminiscing about the heady days of the 60’s musical revolution, and we’re pleased to say that those conversations will continue as the collection will remain at the Old School over the course of the year, with 3-4 images on permanent display and the others available on request.
Taken when the bands and artists toured Yorkshire in the early 1960’s Paul’s photographs are rare collectables, with only 49 prints taken from the negative for Beatles photographs and only 100 taken for the other artists. Thus they present a unique opportunity to own a piece of musical history.
On Saturday 9th June, as part of the Rock Legends exhibition, BAFTA award winner Paul Berriff will be coming to Muker to talk about his life and career as a photographer and filmmaker, a career spanning 50 years from the 1960s to the present day.
Paul’s talk will take you on a memorable journey from his early influences as a 1950’s paper boy delivering Picture Post and Life Magazine – two magazines that told the news and current affairs through powerful full page black and white photographs – via his time as a young press photographer for the Yorkshire Evening Post chasing police cars and fire engines around the streets of Leeds, and onto his days as a BBC and independent film maker.
During this time Paul met and photographed many young bands and artists who would become household names including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Sandie Shaw. He covered The Troubles in Northern Ireland, worked on the James Bond Live and Let Die film set and filmed with Prince Charles for a year. He is the only director/ producer to have been given permission to follow the lives of NASA shuttle astronauts and their families as they prepared for launch.
Being a film maker can be a hazardous affair and Paul has experienced his fair share of danger, surviving four near-death experiences …
… leaping from a sinking ship in the North Sea; being blown from the top of an exploding volcano in Nicaragua; walking away from a major helicopter crash in the Scottish Cairngorms;
… and miraculously surviving (along with his film camera) the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, the only British survivor of that day.
Paul’s talk will be accompanied by photographs and film footage of the events he’s captured, including that day on 9/11.
On the outside wall of the Old School Muker are two plaques commemorating school alumni, Richard and Cherry Kearton. Born in Thwaite, one mile up the Dale, the two brothers attended the school in the late 19th Century before going on to pioneer wildlife photography and cinematography, influencing amongst others Sir David Attenborough.
Given the stunning wildlife photography and film making we enjoy today; impossible without modern, hi-tech equipment, it’s worth reflecting on the limitations of the camera gear available to the Keartons, and how incredibly intrepid and inventive they were to capture their shots, including the use of the famous hollow ox as a portable hide.
We’re currently in conversation with the Museum of Science and Media, who hold in their collection some of the Kearton’s equipment and books, and the V&A whose collection (hopefully) includes some of their original prints, with the aim of holding an exhibition of the Kearton’s work in 2019. Last week I headed down to Bradford to visit to Museum of Science and Media, who were kind enough to provide access to their large and small object stores, both treasure troves of equipment where two of Cherry Kearton’s film cameras are stored.
We’re now waiting for the V&A to get back in touch before we’re able to take the exhibition to the next stage, so watch this space!!
In the meantime there’s a couple more of the Kearton’s images to enjoy below, and more can be found on the Guardian’s website here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2016/jul/14/the-keartons-inventing-nature-photography-in-pictures
For the Yorkshire’s Coast & Sea exhibition I’ve had three of my favourite Yorkshire Coast photographs printed on HD aluminium and framed: Saltwick Bay, Saltburn Pier and Broken Ladder, Spurn Point, each in a limited edition series of 20.
Saltwick Bay (featured image above) was taken ten minutes after a mini cliff collapse from which we narrowly escaped (with a mild pebble-dashing) after misjudging the tide. A couple watching from further up the beach told us they’d thought we’d had it, and as they chatted with Polly I wandered off and took the shot.
Saltburn Pier has a special place in the gallery. After a wonderful jumble of coincidences and connections it was the first picture we sold (to Kathy) on our first day of opening, perhaps a sign that fate might smile down upon us in our new venture.
Spurn Point is a place lodged in my earliest memories, my mother being a keen birdwatcher. At its tip is the pier for the Spurn lifeboat station and next to the pier a derelict wooden structure. In Broken Ladder, taken some years ago, a section of ladder hangs precariously, caught in a delicate balancing act, struggling to cross the void. How long it managed to defy the elements I don’t know, but it’s long since disappeared, lost to the wind and waves.
Paul Berriff’s photographs of the Yorkshire Coast (featured image above Force 10) remind us of the power and unforgiving, biting, nature of the North Sea when its mood take a turn for the worse, and of the courage of those who choose to make their living from it.
Shot on film, in black & white, the natural grain adds to the atmosphere and drama of the images, capturing the scene in a way only film can, and though most photographers have long since switched to the convenience of digital, Paul continues to use the medium of film to great effect.
Paul’s powerful images provide a very different perspective and counterpoint to much of the other work in the exhibition; without its gritty realism the collection would have felt incomplete.
According to the National Park figures there are 1044 field barns, locally called Cow’uses, in Swaledale alone and over 6000 in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, most built between 1750 and the end of the 19th century.
The 10 below (shots taken over the last few weeks and days) are situated around Muker, Thwaite and Keld, in upper Swaledale and most are common sights as we drive up and down the Dale we call home. It will take a good few years and a few inches of boot leather to collect the whole set, but if you like a nice Cow’us you know where to come!
Richard & Janet Burdon are already well known to customers of the Old School for their monochrome images of the iconic Swaledale tups and ewes found on the fells surrounding our gallery, often caught in the midst of a snowstorm. What our visitors don’t know is that they’re equally at home discovering and capturing, serene, minimalist, compositions of Yorkshire’s coastline, not far from their home in Pickering, such as The Promenade (featured image).