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Aimez vous Vivaldi et Couperin ? Yes and Ian Dury too

Elisabeth Lewis had a series of photographs of pop icons including Ian Dury at Lucy Bell’s recent Summer Show. Here she writes about how she came to get them

It was at the Hope & Anchor Pub in Upper Street Islington, London that I first encountered Ian Dury.  I had recently moved there from leafy, staid Blackheath and a partner who liked nothing more than the 18th century. Its clothes , literature and especially music. Vivaldi and Couperin wafting through our flat constantly, even the Beatles were frowned upon. Of course, we did not have a TV, but went regularly to the National Film Theatre, where we had been brought up on avidly awaited new French movies of the nouvelle vague.  Francoise Sagan’s first novel  AIMEZ VOUS BRAHMS  was the novel de rigeur.

So being a single woman again meant going to see and listen to bands, that had intrigued me for years, alas only from afar. I went to the festivals at Knebworth and Bath, hearing and photographing groups like the SANTANAS and LED ZEPPELIN. I rediscovered the 100 Club in Oxford Street and danced to the joys of African music like the challenging rhythms of Zimbabwean  THOMAS MAPFUMO and at the Hoxton Bas Clef club where the amazingly sonorous  South African DUDU PUKWANA held court. A friend who knew one of the girlfriends of THE DIRE STRAITS invited me to come along  to a New Years Eve concert at the fabulous Rainbow Theatre in Camden Town and after the gig we were invited back stage to have our first glass of Champagne of the year. Which year you might ask . I have no idea.

Talking of back stage, usually backstage was off limits to photographers. However I told one of the PR girls of IAN DURY’s concert at the Town & Country Club in Kentish Town about my  project, a story about the popular music scene in the UK. Its great variety, vigour and sources. She not only gave me a press pass, but allowed me to stay in the wings at the back, and also suggested I should go and talk to the man himself.

She pointed to a small door to the side. “Go, go” she said, “talk to him”. I am not usually a slouch when it comes to talking to people, but I don’t interview without knowing what I am talking about. I felt very ill prepared. I had planned, after the brief introduction to him and his music at the Hope & Anchor, to go to this concert, observe and photograph him, get his records for closer study and then get an interview.

So I didn’t interview him and I never would as things turned out. Instead I went as I had planned to take pictures in the wings with my newly acquired long Novoflex lens, which with its pistol grip and heavy duty casing looked convincingly gunlike. So it was no wonder that, when Dury espied me, he looked quite horrified at first, probably thinking I had come to shoot him for real.


Posted 14:57 Friday, Aug 27, 2010 In: Photography

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