Last week when I wrote about a fashion exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, I was not as enthusiastic as I had hoped I would be. So it was perhaps with lower expectations that I went along to the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight to see an exhibition of Fashion Photography by Norman Parkinson. Thankfully I was completely blown away.
Entering the two small rooms which housed the display, I counted 25 of his photographs. A small display perhaps, but each and every one of them was absolutely beautiful.
The way in which Parkinson used the landscape to bring out the beauty of the subject is astonishing. But Parkinson doesn’t restrict himself to conventionally beautiful landscapes; the Grand Canyon or a Scottish mansion provide as dramatic a backdrop as the New York skyline or a rainswept Parisian street.
As celebrated for his longevity as for the way in which he captured iconic images of a fashion era and of key figures in that era, it becomes immediately clear why many of these photographs graced the cover of Vogue magazine and why Norman Parkinson remained an important figure in Fashion photography from his first shoot in 1935 until his death in 1990. See some examples here
Whether your passion is fashion or photography or both, I definitely recommend checking it out. The gallery also has some great permanent exhibits, is open 7 days a week and is FREE to get in! Opened in 1922 by Princess Beatrice (youngest daughter of Queen Victoria), the Lady Lever Art Gallery was establised by Lord Leverhulme, founder of Unilever, in order to house his collection of paintings, furniture, porcelain and tapestries and is situated in Port Sunlight, the village which he built to house his factory workers.
This temporary exhibit, which runs to 24th September is just a part of the collection of work which has been on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London. If you can't get over to see it, the NGP has produced a great book of Parkinson’s work, organised chronologically and including some unpublished photos. I leafed through it in the gallery shop, and then when I saw it on Amazon… well… I have to admit, I have just ordered it. A beautiful coffee table book which anyone with an interest in fashion and fashion photography will love!