dinsdag 16 oktober 2018

Views & Reviews THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED Pony Kids Perry Ogden Photography

Perry Ogden: Pony Kids
by Ogden, Perry; Ronni Cooke Newhouse; Fintan O'Toole
New York: Aperture, 1999. Hardcover. First edition, first printing. A horse culture evolved in the housing estates that surround Dublin: teenagers from the families of the poor kept their ponies on patches of green in the city wastelands. Once a month a horse fair was held at the city center. Ogden made formal portraits of these kids and their ponies in an open studio. The results documented the lifestyle of an endangered tribe and traces their connection to Ireland's ethnic nomads, the Travellers. Photographs by Perry Ogden; introduction by Fintan O'Toole; edited by Ronni Cooke Newhouse. Unpaginated [136 pages]; over 50 duo-toned b&w plates; 8 x 10.5 inches.

Title Image: SHOWstudio- Café Conversation with Simone Rocha

It is a pleasure to sit down to write this piece. I love photography. It fascinates me how the ‘Masters of the Lens’ can convey so much. I just wish that I could be a tenth as good.
Perry Ogden truly qualifies my phrase, ‘Masters of the Lens’.

I have not seen Perry for … too many years to admit to. The last I saw of him, he was about to follow his dream in New York to be a Photographer.

Perry did not just become a Photographer, he became an artist, stretching himself into movies and documentaries.

Image: Perry Ogden

Of course, Perry is best known for his stills. There is not a magazine worth knowing about which has not featured his work on the cover.

Along the way, he managed to fit in his first film Pavee Lackeen (The Traveller Girl) (2005) which won numerous awards around the world including the Satyajit Ray award for Best First Film at the London Film Festival and the Irish Film & Television Award for Best Film.

Born in Shropshire, England, Perry was raised in London where his mother, who worked on the women’s section of The Times, influenced his future in media. Sadly his mother died when he was aged just 11. Despite his love of London street culture, he went off to school at Eton.

Lipstick Magazine Image Perry's then girlfriend on the cover - IdeaNow.online.JPG
Lipstick Magazine with Perry’s (then) girlfriend on the cover.
Image: Perry Ogden from IdeaNow.online

During his time at Eton, Perry discovered cameras and dark rooms, a concept lost on those who have never been taught about a chromatograph! Inspired by the whole media explosion of the time, he produced a school magazine, “Lipstick”.

This was heavily influenced by David Bailey’s “Ritz” magazine and The Interview amongst others. As cool as you like, and he was very cool, he found himself in New York interviewing and photographing Andy Warhol and Diana Vreeland.

David Bailey, Andy Warhol, Diana Rigg and Joe Strummer.
All images: Perry Ogden

He continued on in London and interviewed David Bailey (the photographer of the era), Diana Rigg (actress) and Joe Strummer (lead singer of The Clash).

Perry’s career has found him working with iconic brands such as Ralph Lauren, Chloe and Calvin Klein.

The Pony Kids, 1999
Image: Perry Ogden, The Pony Kids, 1999

He has also found time for amazing projects such as ‘The Pony Kids’, a study of children and their ponies in 90s Dublin. It was like a gang or even tribal situation which the authorities eventually squashed through animal welfare regulations. Ireland’s President, Mary Robinson opened the exhibition which was published in 1999.

Bacon's studio
Image: Perry Ogden, 7 Reece Mews, Francis Bacon’s Studio, 2001

Perry’s photographs of Francis Bacon’s studio, 7 Reece Mews, were published by Thames and Hudson in 2001 and exhibited widely at galleries and museums including The Hugh Lane in Dublin, the ‘Fondation Beyeler’ in Basle and the Fondation van Gogh in Arles.

Image: Perry Ogden for Moncler Enfant, 2017

More recent exhibitions include: ‘Inspiration’ at the Sebastian Guinness Gallery, Dublin, 2010 and ‘Twenty’ at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2011.

Perry’s recent works show a very natural and realistic side of life. His work with children in particular shows a humorous and impish sense of humanity. I particularly love this one which I have cropped as the expression is simply ‘naughty boy, lovely nature’.

naughty boy Image: Perry Ogden for Moncler Enfant, 2017

Perry has called Dublin, Ireland , home for many years. He lives above ‘the shop’, his studio. That concept of home is, more often than not, a life of boarding passes and different time zones. Such it is to be in demand!

Perry Ogden, ‘Master of the Lens’.

Fri, Oct 28, 2005, 01:00

PERRY OGDEN is now in his mid-40s. A distinguished fashion photographer, long resident in Ireland, he took his career in new directions in the 1990s with a series of photographs, later published as a book, depicting inner-city youths and their horses. Now he has followed up that endeavour with a hugely impressive film named Pavee Lackeen.

Stirring up memories of Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home and Iranian cinema of childhood, the unforgiving, naturalistic picture follows a few days in the life of a young Traveller and her family.

It's a notable roster of work. But, as Ogden admits with a smile, when interviewers scrutinise his CV one thing still jumps out: he went to Eton.

"We weren't very posh at all," he laughs, managing to avoid sounding too defensive. "My mother was the editor of the women's page on the Times. She was in favour of state education and my father was in favour of private education. At first she won out." And, indeed, he doesn't sound all that snooty (certainly less so than this month's most prominent old Etonian, David Cameron, who, by my calculation, would have been a new bug when Perry was doing his A-Levels). Balding hair shaved to stubble, clothes selected to look thrown together, he comes across - the odd strangled vowel aside - as agreeably classless.

Raised first in Shropshire, Ogden, whose father was an army officer, traces his enthusiasm for the media back to his days at the City of London School.

"That was next door to the Times. I used to play football, then go and hang out in the office. I'd be taken to the printers and watch them set type. Ever since I have always loved the smell of newsprint. I think that smell was where I got my taste for the smell of the darkroom. Afterwards I would get a cheese roll in the canteen. Then after she died I was sent away to school." The last phrase is delivered coolly, not with any mournful regret.

But the death of his mother, when he was just 11, remains a significant event in the Perry Ogden story. At Eton he co-edited a terrifyingly unfrivolous school magazine - interviews with David Bailey and Andy Warhol, rather than profiles of the janitor's cat - and then, after leaving school, spent some time assisting a former colleague of the photographer Lord Snowden. By the mid-1980s he was receiving commissions from The Face, Harpers and Queen and the Sunday Times.

"It's hard work being a fashion photographer," he says. "When I started out I was interested in just taking photographs of people and I then got sucked into fashion. It is much easier to make a living with that than taking portraits or doing reportage. As I became more exposed I started up on my own. That was in 1982. Then I went to New York for three years. I was always supremely ambitious. I wanted to succeed. In a sense there was a gap within myself that was the loss of my mother. And this identity I was creating was going to fill that gap."

Ogden first came to Ireland in 1983 to shoot a commercial for a Japanese fashion company. His mother's family were Irish, but she had never got round to bringing him here before her death. He loved the country and returned for shoots as often as possible.

"Then I met a girl here, fell in love, had a child, fell out of love. The usual story," he says. "I have always loved photographing in Ireland. It is such a different place to England - less tame. Though things have changed a lot, of course."

Ogden eventually decided to commit himself to Ireland and set up a studio in Dublin's Capel Street. He still lives above the shop. In 1994 he found himself at the horse fair at nearby Smithfield Market, where the youths and their mounts transfixed him. Pony Kids, first an exhibition, then a book, followed.

Was the enterprise a conscious attempt to do something that mattered after the magnificent frivolity of fashion photography?

"I had always had other projects going on," he says. "But fashion was what was being published. I still do it and it helped me make this film. But it is not enough for me. I want more. I don't mean that in the sense of being ambitious. I just want a fuller experience in my work."

Pony Kids was a significant success. The book was reviewed all over the world and "surprisingly, given what it is" Ogden even managed to sell the screen rights. His initial plan was to use any money he received for the finished film, to finance an independent project, but Pony Kids: The Movie still remains in development. Nonetheless, he persevered and eventually managed to get Pavee Lackeen together.

At the film's heart is a fine central performance by young Winnie Maughan, whose family lives in a caravan parked on an unlovely stretch of road near Ringsend in Dublin. Ogden first met Winnie, now 11, via her brother. Perry and his co-writer, Mark Venner, saw the young lad put in a splendid performance before the judge at the Children's Court. Perry introduced himself, passed around a few copies of Pony Kids as evidence of his bona fides, and was taken back to meet Winnie and the family.

"She did this amazing spiel. She was so eager to impress. It was obvious she had this quite amazing imagination." The film - loosely plotted in the classic cinema vérité style - follows the family as they try to avoid having their caravan moved to an even more poorly appointed site. They meet with a Travellers' support worker to discuss their rights. Winnie visits the doctor. She gets dressed up and has some chips. In one particularly amusing scene, she is called upon to sing and, rather than dragging up some mournful ballad, delivers a juicy rap number.

Though we do see Winnie and her pal sniffing petrol, the picture is unapologetically on the Travellers' side. Ogden was keen to listen to the family's concerns about how they were to be depicted.

"They didn't want anyone to be filmed begging," he says. "They had pride. Once or twice we would ask them to do something and they would say no. But we developed a real level of trust with them."

So has Pavee Lackeen helped Ogden develop that "fuller experience" he was seeking from his work?

"I guess I almost feel a responsibility to tell these sort of stories as we live in this luxurious age of celebrity, all of which is pretty meaningless." A fashion photographer speaks? "Yes. I suppose a part of my life was involved with propagating that. I am to blame, so I am riddled with guilt." He laughs drily as he speaks.

Pavee Lackeen is released on November 11th

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