Girl In the Timeless Room – 1969 Harpers & Queen

This was one of the first fashion shoots I did for Harpers and Queen as they then were. I persuaded Willie Landell’s the Art Director and Editor, to let me build a set. He said “Clive dear boy we haven’t got the money” I said, “Don’t worry I will build it with my assistants the night before.” We built the set with hardboard and cardboard and gaffer tape. I wanted it to look like the girl was standing in a timeless room. I’d just seen Beckett’s ‘Waiting For Godot’ so I was trying to create the atmosphere of the suspension of time, caught in a flash, like the ball floating in the air below and a sense of anticipation that something is about to happen. This may sound a tad pretentious but I had just left art school and was full of great and noble intentions #callmeasentimentalfoolifyouwill

I recently found these Hasselblad transparencies. I scanned them at high resolution and then I noticed that there were mold spores all over the negatives and scratches. It has been a labour of love to re-image and restore them. The colours had also faded. There was also deterioration in the emulsion on the film, which is what happens when film is left in an unprotected condition. The BFI National Archive store things in highly stable air-conditioned environments and unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of such a hi-tech systems.

The main thing I find using Adobe Photoshop is I can revitalise and re-image the colour and restore the original quality of the image. An analogy would be, if you remaster a Beatles album, you have the spirit of the original saved in a stable way and that is the blessing of digital. Images that I would previously not have been able to save are now digitally resurrected.

Back in the day, I was always overwhelmed waiting for the image to appear in the developer, with the red light and smell of the bromide. The sacred red light of the darkroom was a temple where images came to life, with the background noise of running water and the huge drum drier. It was like Mars, the red planet, otherworldy and then you would step out blinking into the daylight and be stunned by the quality of film and the capture of the Hasselblad. It was always a revelation.

Now it’s a long and beautifully tiring process adjusting each pixel but also an incredible creative joy to be able to revitalise those moments. Much like when I used to paint, which I always found completely absorbing. Inevitably I find myself falling in love with these models all over again and seeing the wonder of the image emerging as it did in the darkroom in the days of film and printing. But now I wait as my SC Epson P5000 reveals immaculate gallery quality prints. To this day it never fails to amaze me.

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