I was going to do another post in my Interiors series this week. There were a couple of other ideas bubbling under as well but Tuesday rolled round and none of those ideas were quite ready so I turned to our old friend John Bignell. I looked for a selection of photographs that would show some of the range of his work. Bignell photographed the famous and the obscure, the artistic and the ordinary. As a jobbing photographer he worked to order but he also worked for himself.
He did fashion shoots like this one:
A model (unknown to me but I’m open to suggestions) in a Chelsea street.
Then there were catalogue jobs.
I think this was part of a tryout rather than the finished work but Bignell thought the series was worth keeping.
He was also out covering feature stories like this one at Battersea Park Fun Fair:
That’s the Caterpillar they’re getting out of according to my wife who rode on it in its final days.
Here’s another feature, where he followed his friend Paul Raymond to Clacton. The Raymond showgirls pose for some publicity pictures.
When he was bored with the glamorous jobs he sought out more authentic subject matter.
A woman feeding birds in Dovehouse Green – behind her is the Miller monument which is still there in the centre of the green which was landscaped in 1978.
A boy demonstrating the power of reading outside the first Chelsea Library in Manresa Road. Bignell may have set this picture up but it still looks spontaneous.
This one is somewhere in Chelsea too I think.
Is the girl shocked at the price of coley, or worried that she might have to eat it? (Some people used to think that coley is just for cats.)
Sometimes Bignell concentrated on landscape:
St Mary’s Church, Battersea reflected perfectly in the shallow water at low tide.
This pair of images contrasts night and day:
Looking down the King’s Road from the roof of Peter Jones department store. (Bignell had a bit of a knack for getting to the top of buildings with a good view.)
And then there was just hanging out with the bohemian crowd, as in this party at David Rawnsley’s Pottery in 1960.
This lady is Lucette de Fongere, about whom I also know nothing apart from her name. As with all the Bignell posts I would appreciate any further information.
This is another carefully posed picture:
It features Regin de Cerchard and his wife who is pretending to examine a painting of Chelsea Reach and Lot’s Road Power Station. Bignell had many friends among the art and antique dealers of Chelsea. That was 1955. Fifteen years later he had other artistic friends.
Once again all I can tell you is the caption: filming under Battersea Bridge.
My final picture this week is one of my favourites, taken in Woolworth’s in Victoria in 1959.
I think this is one picture which wasn’t staged. As he so often did Bignell had the photographer’s instinct to take the picture at exactly the right moment.