A Forgotten Treasure
I rediscovered an old leather case, hidden away upstairs that had been in the family for as long as I can remember.
It held all the photographs from yesteryear, moments in time that were captured on film and reproduced as grainy black and white photographs.
When I look through these snaps, I’m amazed at how they seem to transport me to the moment in time when the picture was taken. Even though the photographs are in black and white, my memories are in vibrant technicolour – triggering other recollections of sights, sounds, smells and feelings.
My Papa Back Then
What I find particularly poignant is looking at pictures of my grandfather back then. The man I called Papa looked very dapper in his dark suit, obligatory necktie and with a full head of hair.
My Papa died when I was only 12 years old, but I still have the memory of him strongly in my head. I smile when my own grandchildren now call me Papa and wonder ‘how did that happen, when did I become Papa?”
The last time I looked at those old photographs, I imagined how my Papa was in his youth: how he dressed, his attitude and ambitions, his hopes and dreams, his fears and his loves.
A Unique Time and Place
My speculation on my Papa’s youth and young manhood inspired me to create this collection that is a prequel to my signatures ‘gadgies’.
These work weary uncles, fathers and grandfathers in flat caps, are transformed and returned to an earlier ‘Peaky Blinders’ era in my Youth & Young Manhood collection. Back then they had broader shoulders, sharper profiles and a style and a swagger influenced by their silver screen idols.
The clothing in the era between the two World Wars also has a particular fascination for me. The sheen and folds in heavy wool coats, tweed suits and cloth caps create wonderful surfaces which reflect and soak up light at the same time. Usually surrounded by ever present tobacco smoke, so prevalent in the Twenties, Thirties and Forties.
I know that these images, taking of working men in desperate times trying to look their best, may be somewhat romanticised but isn’t it nice to think of our fathers and grandfathers as young, vibrant individuals ready to take on the world.