Thursday, April 5, 2012

Today I am ... a world-travelling photojournalist

Marilyn Monroe on set of The Misfits in Nevada, 1961, by Eve Arnold. Image: Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos, via
Art Sensus looks more like an upmarket office block from the outside, barely signed, behind extensive roadworks in Victoria.

Here, in the unlikeliest of settings, you can escape into an extraordinary world seen through the eyes of Eve Arnold, the iconic twentieth century female photographer. Eve died in January this year shortly before what would have been her 100th birthday, and the 'All About Eve' exhibition (free, running until 27 April) is a celebration of her life's work.

I'll hold my hands up and admit that until now, I had been guilty of associating Eve only with her most famous photos of Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits in the Nevada desert, Marilyn's last film before she died.

Eve's stunning photos of the golden age of Hollywood capture some of the world's most famous faces in unguarded moments, as they film on location.

For me, the highlight of this series was Michael Caine and Candice Bergen jokingly breaking out into the tango in between takes on the set of The Magus in Majorca, 1967.

Michael Caine and Candice Bergen, The Magus, 1967, by Eve Arnold. Image: Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos, via
Incredibly, Eve also gained insight into political powerhouses, going on the road with Malcolm X during the black Muslim movement and following Margeret Thatcher on the campaign trail.

But there is a lot more to Eve than her little black book.

Eve's extensive travels also led her to document evocative landscapes of rural China, family life in Cuba, asylum patients in Haiti, children in the ghettos of Puerto Rico, Navajo women in the American southwest and veiled Afghani widows.

Horse training for the militia, Inner Mongolia, China, 1979 by Eve Arnold. Image: Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos, via
What stands out to me the most?

For some reason, the picture I remember the most is a youthful shot of our very own Queen cracking a rare smile as she gets caught in the rain, gazing up at the sky.

Queen Elizabeth II, by Eve Arnold. Image: Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos via
Despite these electic subjects, there is a beautiful, escapist signature style to all of Eve's photographs. I'm no expert but I think it's simply her personality, coming through each picture. The world according to Eve.

It's clear to see the closeness, trust and warmth that Eve shares with her subjects, teasing out the spontaneous, unguarded side of everyone from Cuban bartenders to Andy Warhol. We can imagine she must have had charm, talent and gritty determination in abundance to gain access to people and places we'd never otherwise see.

Upon leaving, you get the sense that you have just witnessed an incredible, rollercoaster ride of a lifetime; surely a movie waiting to happen.

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