August 2012

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Photo by Joan Craven

Photo of Pamela Green by Joan Craven


Above a photograph of Pamela Green by Joan Craven, who photographed Pam several times. Joan shared studios with Walter Bird at Kinocrat House on the Cromwell Road, London. Don’t have much information about her. If you can help please email me or post something. Below is the text from a short article in Figure Quarterly (Fall), 1957.

PROBABLY THE MOST famous female exponent of figure photography today, Miss Joan Craven is the society-bred, fine-featured descendant of a long line of Yorkshire Cravens. She is a small, delicate woman, with a defiant will and an iron desire to remain a rugged individualist. On Bond street, she rubbed elbows with famous stage personalities during her youth, as well as prominent members of the nobility and gentry. “How I used to loathe those dreary court affairs,” she recalls. “They started in the evening and went on into the next morning, with the debutantes and their relatives, the ridiculous feathers on their heads, court trains sweeping the marble floors.” After she had her fill of this, Miss Craven decided to make a career of her favourite hobby and opened her own studio on Bond Street. She photographed the famous Diaghileff ballerinas, drifted into advertising, then fashion work. “But,” she confides, “I couldn’t bear having the studio full of longhaired advertising layabouts and fat, bald-headed entrepreneurs all with different ideas, all telling me what to do. I am a patient woman, but one day, driven desperate by all this nagging, I yelled ‘Oh, take the picture yourself,’ and walked out.” It was following this incident that the sensitive blue-blood turned to figure photography. She found working with a young, beautiful model a form of relaxation rather than a commissioned task. “I could please myself entirely,” says Miss Craven, “and if I also pleased the judges in the exhibitions, well that was highly satisfactory if not very remunerative.” But her nudes, all classically expressive and full-bodied creatures, have long since made her financially independent. She works sporadically now, allowing plenty of time to “just stand and stare at the natural treasures of life.”

This has to be one of my favourite portraits of Pamela Green. It is by Bertram Park, a highly regarded establishment photographer whose body of work encompassed not just figure studies, but still lives and society portraits as well. His reputation was such that various European crowned heads would visit his studio to be photographed, including the British Royal Family. In 1910, he became a founder member of the London Salon of Photography. He married the photographer Yvonne Gregory in 1916. With her, in 1919, he set up a studio at 43 Dover Street, London. He exhibited as part of the European avant-garde movement in the Premier Salon International de Nu Photographique which took place in Paris in 1933 in the company of Man Ray, Moholy-Nagy, and others. It was a landmark show of the last century whose importance can not be underestimated. Bertram Park photographed Pamela Green several times, including at his home in Pinner, whose extensive grounds he used as a setting for outdoor nudes. Bertram Park was also an authority on roses. Apparently he had had some three thousand specimens in his garden.

Published Works — Bertram Park and Yvonne Gregory

  • Living Sculpture, 1926, Batsford
  • The Beauty of the Female Form, 1934, Routledge
  • Sun Bathers, 1935, Routledge
  • Curves and Contrast of the Human Figure, 1936, John Lane
  • Eve in the Sunlight, 1937, Hutchinson
  • A Study of Sunlight and Shadow on the Female Form, 1939, John Lane