The Pre-Raphaelites .. the painting below the famous Lady in the Lake image, the one with the lady smelling the rose and the very last image of the lady on the gilded chair at the end are just mesmerising.
A few pieces here by my old friend Harry Thuillier. We met through his brother Ian, with whom I worked in a variety of creative areas over many years. Actually, Ian was working for me the night of the infamous 'what the fuck are you looking at' moment with the then heavyweight world champion boxer, Lennox Lewis. It was Ian's little car that we took off in after Lennox cut the ribbon and opened a branch of Ciro's Pizza Pomodero. We went uptown on the lash and Lennox was welcomed everywhere we took him: Mulligan's, The Palace Bar, The Long Hall, and finally Lillie's with Ronnie Wood and Jo, his then wife.
Harry was Ian's older brother and when he returned from a world tour taking shots for Bank Of Ireland's annual corporate calendar - reserved for extra special clients, he moved into the house I was letting with Fulvia, his ex and best friend. We lead an idyllic life, never a dull moment with Harry around. Sadly, he took off on Dec 28th 1999 to Rome to do some shots there for the next year's calendar, and was later that day found dead behind the local train station - with a syringe that was previously full of pure heroin in his arm. All his Leica's stolen, his money, passport, the works. He was spiked, but the Italian coppers refused to investigate after they discovered Harry had signed himself into St John Of Gods to clean up a few years previously.
His original photos are all created using the old platinum and palladium styles of the late nineteenth century, he mixed his own solutions and rarely made more than five copies of any of his shots. I'm blessed with an original of this one - framed, signed, and recorded as an original from the Thuillier studio. It's absolutely stunning too.
Sotheby's are his main sales point, but Saatchi & Saatchi also stock some copies. Mine is an original and will stay with me for life. It's presently wrapped and sealed in plastic in my Mam's attic. The only reason I didn't bring it over here is because it's a glass frame, airtight and the seal has never been broken. I'd take it if I could carry it as hand luggage, but there's no way I'd take any risks with it. It's financial value is one thing - but sentimentally? It'd break my heart to part with it or see it damaged. He gave it to me as a gift only days before he died - I decorated, furnished, and set up a room for him in the house I was renting on Leeson Park Avenue with his ex and his brother, Ian. My lifelong friend and fellow nutter.
There are few copies of any of his originals around these days and the family are very precious about all of them. I loaned a copy of the boats in Vietnam to the N.Ational Gallery when they did a retrospective on his life and work, but never got it back. The family took it and kept it for their own collection. Thankfully, I still had 'Number 21' in my room and hid it away when the guys from the NG came to collect the frames.
Available shots online are very small - deliberately so: the originals are captivating, the grain in each copy is slightly different depending on the metallic solutions of gold, silver, copper, oxides and carbon paper types he used to print the shots. Here are a few miniatures. He was obsessed with death and beauty, its form and its meaning, and how to capture a moment and make it last forever using ancient techniques few people know how to use. I love the story about how he became an apprentice. He'd studied photography for three years in Memphis, Tennessee and when he learned a little about this ancient technique, he went in search of the few people on the planet who knew how the alchemy worked.
He found an eccentric old guy in Wales working with palladium prints of other photographer's work, so he went over to see him. The old guy said no, he wouldn't share his secrets, so Harry went away and came back with a sleeping bag and small tent and told the guy that he was going to camp out until he relented and allowed him in to watch the old man at work and try to learn as much as possible about the alchemy from visuals only: no talk, no questions, no chit-chat, just watch and learn. Harry learned all he could from the old buzzard and came back home and rebuilt his entire studio, dumping his modern gear and buying up on the metals and minerals required to work alchemically.
The girl in the pictures is from Italy - not Fulvia, but the girl he dated after they broke up - which they never should have done, they were born for each other.
He was obsessed also with death. Many of his photos are very dark portraits placed in awkward scenarios where he'd mix body parts he was given access to at the College Of Surgeons in Dublin and another in Machu Picchu where he discovered something very unusual. He came across a Maori head, severed from its body but with very distinct facial tattoos that were legible to Maori peoples. He also noted that the history attached to the skull denoted its arrival in the 1300's. Long before the America's were discovered. So it had some historic significance. I have a copy version of that skull also in Mam's loft, and again: it's something I'll always treasure.
Harry lost an eye when he was around thirty years old. He was on Grafton Street taking shots of me and another dead guy, Terry-Lee, my childhood musical friend. Sadly, Harry took a photo of the scum punks who hung out on Grafton Street most days and nights. This night, he took a quick shot of them passing but they heard the click and they turned on him. After being kicked to the ground (right in front of me) one fucker dropped a pint glass near his face - so another of them kicked it straight into his face. They burst his eyeball and he was blinded temporarily. They manged to stitch the burst eyeball but he simply lost his good eye and had to go back to the beginning and start again.
Here's Harry himself: RTE made a documentary about his life and his work called 'Through The Glass Darkly' and it's available on DVD too.
People had always remarked when they saw us together that we were twins. But we're not related in any way. Same with Ian, the younger brother and friend. When they took the body home from Italian coppers, we had a ceremony for him out in a small church in Wicklow, at the bottom of the hill at Kilmacanogue with all his family and friends present. I wore white, everything white, I refused to publicly mourn for him, his life's work was already timeless. There were too many brilliant things about the man for me to feel bad about his actual death, it was his obsession anyway, so carrying the coffin in with Ian, his younger brother, and his Dad made people think differently about his passing.
Later that same night, I was sitting in front of the fireplace with Fulvia. That was when it hit home. I thought of him smiling, devious, bright-eyed and laughing at life while playing with death. And I couldn't bear the thought of him in a box under the ground. So we took a car at around midnight and drove back to the cemetery. I brought my tenor saxophone and a huge battery flash-lamp for us to find our way in the pitch dark.
We sat on the soil that buried him and toasted him with a bottle we took along for the ride.
Later, I played the piano theme tune from 'Betty Blue' - our favourite French movie - for him and then placed the flash-lamp at the head of his grave and left it there, shining out a beam into the night sky that we could still see when we walked back down the hill to the car. I felt better for that and knew I'd sleep better knowing that he was till shining brightly out into the universe. And that his favourite tune had sent him to sleep, forever.
I still can't help the tears when I play that piece nowadays: I can smell the grass and the soil of the cemetery and I can feel the terribly empty place he left in us when he went away. Some people are simply not born to stay too long. Harry was one of them, but his legacy will live longer than any of us.
Nicely subversive in subtle parts. Very romantic style, the celtic 'style'. Which is nice really as we have such nice romantic stories so you'd need something colourful, entwined, with subtleties. I wonder what the formal N.ame of this style of illustration or painting is, does anyone know?
I noticed it around the edges of my copybooks in school and in schoolbook covers and so on. I know the celtic pattern but there's a discernible drawing style that always looks familiar for some reason and I'm not sure what it is called.