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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

An Eye For Fashion - Norman Parkinson's Photographs (from 1954-1964)

Last Friday Helen and I went to the preview of the Norman Parkinson exhibition at the M Shed. In theory I should have loved it but we were more preoccupied by the sheer number of badly dressed people in one place. SERIOUSLY, it was unreal and not in a good way. Clearly trying to dress to impress in their most 'stylish' attire but failing miserably. To put it bluntly, they looked as if they had run into Zandra Rhodes' wardrobe blindfolded and put on the first garments they came across. They were that bad. Anyway, so that overshadowed the actual exhibition. Not surprisingly as it's situated in a very small, low-ceilinged room, curated as a timeline broken down by wallpapered divider walls with a couple of mannequins dressed in styles of the time, with only very tenuous links to Bristol and the photography. A shame really as Norman Parkinson was one of the forerunners in fashion photography, taking it out of the stuffy studio and placing it in real life. I would have liked to have seen more focus on the actual locations, as well as Parkinson's wit and humour seen in many of the photos - just look at the flasher-esq shoot above! So something that could have been varied and as lively as that transitional decade turned into a very stale glimpse of a photographer's very rich, acute eye.

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