John Thornton

John Thornton

The Provenance Of 300 Voyers - John Thornton

I was asked to do a demonstration in Barcelona, as in the 70s I was considered the most popular photographer in Spain.

Originally I turned down this invitation, then one evening sitting in Richard Winslade my photographer mate’s Notting Hill Gate flat, he suggested that I put paper bags on the heads of the group coming to the demonstration. I then changed the paper bags to the gold masks as I liked the surreal voyeuristic tone that it would produce. I took the model Derrie Powell, together with the gold masks to Barcelona, and was delighted that I had the ballroom at The Ritz Hotel at my disposal.

I put a bank of flash lights under the balcony and set up my camera, then the waiting people filed in and where told to put on their gold masks on otherwise Snr Thornton would not appear. Once the audience were all adorned in their masks, Derrie and I walked along the balcony, she dressed only in a flowing velvet cape and high heel shoes. Dropping her cape she lay down out of view of the assembled audience, it truly was a surreal sight. I pressed the button and the motor drive sent one roll of Kodachrome through my Nikon, that was my demonstration.

Derrie and I then went to the edge of the balcony and bowed. Walking down from the balcony I was mobbed, some calling me a great surrealist and in their next breath mentioning Salvador Dali who is my deity, for it was here that Dali was carried out comatose after a party, with people fighting to have the honour of carrying him.

I so love the Catalan people, and have been inspired by their artists from Miro, to Gaudi, Marti, Dali to mention but a few, not forgetting Fancundo Bacardi, who founded the eponymous rum distillery, which does indeed appeal to my Australian heritage.

Some years later I was to have an exhibition in Cadaques, Dali lived in Port Ligat a small village on a bay next to the town, and I was honoured when he came to my exhibition and humbled by his comment - SUPERB ! FANTASTIC!

40 Years & More In The Taking
A Retrospective Of  Photographic Images
John Thornton
Reading Room
65 - 66 Frith Street
Soho London SW1D 3JR
6 June - 15th July 2011