ES-Say #40 The Long And "Winded" Road To "Photograph".
As Ringo Starr appeared this month at the National Portrait Gallery in London, it was widely written that several photographic prints from his private collection would be on display. I assumed that the website for the gallery would have more information, but at the time, I found no mention of it. Related newspaper articles gave no further details beyond the naming the gallery. It wasn't until The Macca Report identified the display to promote Starr's Photograph (Genesis, 2015) book would be in the bookstore, that I promptly got my hiney in gear to plan a visit.
I decided to go on the 22nd of September, the day after Ringo's book would be available for purchase at the Gallery. I have passed this gallery many times before, but never had any interest in going inside. The gallery is situated between Trafalgar Square and Leister Square, two areas with several popular tourist attractions. Naturally, since it was early afternoon, the Gallery was busy with visitors as I entered through the revolving doors and then hurried into the first gift shop I saw. This gift shop was located right by the entrance, so I was confused to find no Beatles portraits anywhere. I did see a couple of postcards and magnets with Beatles-related images, but nothing else. The cashier informed me that I was in the wrong place and I needed to go specifically to the gallery's "Bookshop". I quickly bought what looked like a Paul McCartney art drawing on a postcard and left to find the specific "Bookshop".
Up the stairs I ran, when I spotted the bookshop signs and found(you guessed it..) a bookshop. In the very back on the right side was the Ringo exhibit inside what was the size of a bathroom.
19 photos in total, with 11 available for sale at £1,900 each. 8 b&w photos displayed(left side) were listed as "sold out". Each photo was either 17th or 24th out of 25 prints, with a colour 1966 India photo of John and Paul check marked twice in place of the numbered print. All the photos seemed professionally shot, rather than basically candid. I really liked about a handful of these shots and coincidentally the "sold out" collection.
I then decided to leaf through a display copy of the book, to decide if I wanted to buy the hardcover for £35. To be honest, I wasn't that impressed with the "never before seen" photos.
Let's just say, I'm not a Ringo Starr Solo Fan, and leave it at that. But, maybe I should rant a moment that this book is intended for the general public who, apparently, forgot that originally this book was offered in 2013 in signed limited edition format and touted in America for people with disposable income. Think for a minute how much a now sold-out signed leather-bound edition costs, and this £35 cardboard unsigned copy seems less attractive. In fact, the coffee-table book is decent, but it's certainly not containing rare photos anymore and the 19 photos for sale are the highlights.
As I felt my money could be better spend on other Beatles related photo books, as there are several professional ones available, my attention turned to the fact I had stumbled upon something more exciting as a Paul McCartney fan. The postcard I had bought earlier, turned out to be advertisement for a 1964 Oil painting by Sam Walsh. "Mike's Brother" as it was titled, was on display directly above on the next floor. As I dashed back out to the entrance to find a map, I had to walk up the stairs past the "Bookshop" again, to reach the Paul painted. I think I stared at the painting for a few minutes with most interest about how in 1964, Sam Walsh managed to place a lot of interest in Paul's nose with shades of red, but the interpretation of the hair and highlights of blue defined the picture best. I was going to have to ignore the minor hiccups of the painting(like whatever miscalculation had happened in the painting with Paul's left eye, dripping of paints, on the right side.)
The "Bookshop" had a guide book on sale for a whopping £3! Since the painting is on display until January 2016, I can go back and buy the identical £3.50 magnet. The rest of my day was spent getting lost in London with little reason to ever ride a bike in traffic again. I had bought a few film books containing John Lennon Imagine film reviews and mentions of Paul's Give My Regards To Broad Street being a "Turkey" film of 1984. As I strapped the books to the bike, later on, I started to recognise where I had wound up on my hour of a non-magical mystery tour. You guessed right, I ended the day by bike on "Paul Street" only a five minute walk from Broadgate(aka Broad Street) and Liverpool St. Train Station.
Yeah, I really don't think I'm cut out to call myself a Ringo Starr fan. All roads lead to Paul...