The collection of “vintage dancing girls” that I began as a flickr album in 2012 has now passed 400 entries. I’ve no doubt the album title will be considered non-PC these days though, as I have previously written, the term “girl” has been applied very widely and has included men who cross dress. (I haven’t included Vesta Tilley, a very famous male impersonator. Would she be classified as a dancing girl anyway? There are many postcards of her to be found on the internet and a biography by Sara Maitland if you are interested).
As you can see here’s an example of men cross dressing though why and where I do not know. Possibly from an ENSA or other wartime show.
The number of studio posed girls in dance dress is almost impossible to guess but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ran into the hundreds of thousands. This is a good example of the genre.
Another source of material comes from dancing schools. This for instance comes from an album of photographs and articles about amateur productions put on by Raybury Dance school sometime in the 1930s and later.
There have been many dance troupes that performed in variety and where this is clearly the case I have also included them in an album featuring variety, music hall and theatre performers. Again the numbers of these troupes is staggering and it’s very difficult to track down information on them to identify when and where they performed.
This last photograph comes from the famous Windmill Theatre. There are many collectors of material from the Windmill and some of the performers are still alive. This particular photograph lists the performers on the reverse and I was amazed to be contacted by another flickr user who told me one of them was his mum!
This photograph which I pretentiously named Middleton Chiaroscuro is one of my attempts at minimalism. It’s a zoomed in shot of Middleton seen from the front of my house. It has not been photoshopped except to convert to black and white and remove some condensation that was on the camera lens.
Minimalism in photography (or any art form) is difficult to pin down. Admins of minimalist groups on flickr can be ferociously judgemental on the subject and often remove entries that in their judgement do not meet the required standards. Yet it can be extremely difficult to judge whether something is minimalist or not. It’s all very well to say that a minimalist photograph should have only a small object of focus against a plain background or that it emphasises geometric forms but then you have to ask how small, how plain, how many geometric lines?
I’m happy to say that this is a minimalist shot. It’s water flowing across a metal sculpture at Yorkshire Sculpture Park….
…. but is this minimalist or not? Also from an exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Part. I’ve distorted the displayed items and to be honest I can’t remember how I did it. (Probably using Filter Forge software.)
And is this minimalist or is it a landscape (or both)?
There are lots of places on the internet where you can find more formal definitions of minimalist photography and examples such as this article from contrastly and this from photo argus.
Finally if you are curious as to what value can be put on minimalist photography then this famous photograph by Andreas Gursky and called Rhein II was sold at auction for over $4.3 million. The original had dog walkers and a factory that he photoshopped out. Make of that what you will.
… is paved with good intentions, so someone said. (Actually first reported in Henry G Bohn’s A Hand-book of Proverbs in 1855 according to Wikipedia). And something went wrong somewhere along the line with this blog as well as with my writing. Well not with my writing per se but with how I deal with it. I recently published my latest novel Dressing the Dead after sitting on it for the best part of a year. The editing process is too difficult, I told myself. The requirements of Amazon to wrangle it into a shape acceptable to their software is a nightmare, I told myself. Besides very few people are ever going to read it so why am I bothering?
As it happens the Amazon specifications are very fiddly but nothing that can’t be overcome with a few hours work. It is true that very few people will ever read the book but that’s not why I wrote it. Yes, it would be nice to have the rights optioned for a film starring Tom Cruise or whoever is the current favoured action hero but I don’t lose sleep thinking about such things. So what is that caused such prevarication on my part and why did it go on for so long?
The answer is that I don’t really know. Nor can I tell you whether this blog will pick up where it left off. All I can say is what is likely to happen with Loake and Patel and what’s in store for Alchemists of Time.
Dressing the Dead finishes on a cliff hanger and you’ll have to read it if you want to know what that is. However, I can tell you that book three in the series will reveal more of Jenny Patel’s back story and that the main theme of the book will be agricultural crime. I bet that’s got your pulse racing hasn’t it? I also don’t think we’ve heard the last of Constance Brown, Melissa Anderson or the Antiphony Group (again read the book damn you!)
Part of the reason that it did take me so long to complete the publication of Dressing the Dead was the fact that I’ve been working on the sequel to Alchemists of Time and every day spent fiddling with fonts and gutters on Dead was time not spent with the Victorians. This time Alex is still stuck in the past with Benjamin Strutt and Daisy whilst Maxine is living a life in an alternative 1960s timeline. The story advances to 1869 and 1969. Writing has been going at a furious pace and the novel has passed the 100K words mark and looks like it’s heading for 150K. For anyone still reading this I’ve set my goal to complete and publish by the end of 2020. If I fail, well then you can come back and talk to me about the road to hell.