Two new photographic exhibitions capture stars of stage and screen in different lights, writes Jon Perks.
There are two Mick Jaggers in town.
No, we’re not talking tribute bands or namesakes who drive a bus or work in a call centre.
There is the groomed, jacketed Jagger posing with a microphone backstage at Top of the Pops in the mid 60s, and then the far more natural, relaxed Rolling Stone, his hair shaggy, grin wide enough to show the diamond in his tooth, taken sometime in the mid 70s.
Each is at the heart of an exhibition on show in the West Midlands in the next month.
The former at My Generation: Glory Years of British Rock, a collection of pictures by Harry Goodwin, who was resident photographer at Top of the Pops from 1964 to 1973.
The latter was taken by Carinthia West, who as well as being one of Mick’s ex girlfriends was also a successful model, actress and journalist who was rarely without her trusted Canon EF.
Her candid, natural, slightly voyeuristic shots of the cool crowd of celebs she mixed with can now be enjoyed at St Paul's Gallery in Hanging Out With Carinthia West.
As well as Jagger and Ronnie Wood, the collection of rare photographs captures the likes of Anjelica Huston, Eric Idle and King Hussein of Jordan – but unlike Goodwin’s posed shots, these are the subjects caught in a relaxed, personal moment, at play, with family and friends.
There is singer Neil Young smiling from the wheel of one of his vintage cars and in the yard of his ranch with son Zeke; a grinning Carly Simon, the New York skyline (Twin Towers and all) perfectly reflected in her sunglasses – a happy accident; Robin Williams and Johnnie Shand-Kydd (stepbrother of Princess Diana) at a cluttered kitchen table.
The name of the exhibition says it all; these are people simply hanging out, with Carinthia in the wings, observing unobtrusively.
In the odd case there’s no-one famous in the frame; one series of black and white shots records the famous Battersea Power Station ‘pig’ shoot in December 1976 for Pink Floyd’s Animals album cover.
Another picture, “the bums one” as Carinthia refers to it, was taken at one of Rod Stewart’s regular mid 70s Sunday lunchtime football matches in LA, and focuses on two shapely female rears and drummer Paul Nicholls from little-known rock band Widowmaker. Rod can just about be spotted as a speck in the background.
“I wasn’t any different from a lot of people,” says Carinthia, who still cuts an elegant and glamorous figure.
“It’s just probably that I was trusted and that’s something that’s an underrated thing and incredibly important; I did shoot professionally, the odd job for magazines, but none of the pictures you’ll see – with one or two exceptions – were shot from any professional point of view.
“They are of a moment. I love that, just a moment in time; it captures a joy.
“Marie Helvin said everybody’s so happy in my pictures and I love that, it’s such a sweet thing to say; yes, the world is full of awful and sad things, but I like to see people being happy and enjoying their lives.”
Carinthia has been both in front of and behind the camera lens (“and to the left and to the right!” she laughs), but it’s clear which of her many jobs and roles she’s enjoyed the most.
“I haven’t got much vanity and I think you’ve got to be so confident; when I was acting I loved it because it was easy to do it, but I love observing, and in many ways observing is a gift you’re given, because most people live their lives subjectively perhaps.
“I don’t want to sound pretentious, but I feel privileged to be quietly in the background, it’s very underrated – everybody wants to be there in front and ‘I’m so smart, I’m so cool’ but I’ve had my moments doing that.
“I look at some of those photographs and I think ‘gosh, it’s almost like it was another person taking it’, because my life’s so different now.”
While Carinthia is still taking pictures with her new Canon G11, she thinks it’s something she should now “leave to the young”.