In November 1956, when British Vogue carried a photo shoot that was done in India, it was among the first few occasions that fashion photography moved out of the confines of a studio, into glorious real world occasions. The man behind the shoot, the late Norman Parkinson, received heaps of praise for his pictures of ’50s supermodel Anne Gunning and late actor Barbara Mullen in exotic locales like Kashmir and Jaipur. The shoot, one of his best works, and a precursor to many others to come, is now to be displayed in the city in a show called Pink is the Navy Blue of India.
“It is fair to say that a lot of contemporary fashion photography owes a great debt to Parkinson and his legacy can still be seen today,” says Nathaniel Gaskell of Tasveer Arts, the gallery that will be showcasing the pictures. “In fact, many of his ideas of taking photography out of the confines of the studio have been taken even further, and now high-budget and exotic fashion shoots are often the rule and not the exception.”
The 28 pictures on display also include some of Parkinson’s best known works — the Jerry Hall diptych, Wend at Hyde Park Corner and The Art of Travel.
“We tried to combine this shoot he did in India with a selection of his more iconic photographs which he took at different points through his career, to give a sense of context and history,” explains Gaskell.
And where did the name of the show come from? “Diana Vreeland, the then editor of Harper’s Bazaar, was captivated by the photographs taken in India, famously proclaiming, ‘How clever of you, Mr Parkinson also to know that pink is the navy blue of India’,” says Gaskell.
When Parkinson died in 1990, his honours included a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), photographing the royal family, and of course, kickstarting a new era in fashion photography.
Pink is the Navy Blue of India by Norman Parkinson will be displayed from April 28-May 5 at Tasveer Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda