Last night I visited the Tin Shed in Laugharne. It is the 5th anniversary of the Shed which is a 1940s based museum that also hosts events and entertainment. On Friday night Antony Penrose gave a talk about his mother the internationally acclaimed photographer, Lee Miller
The atmosphere in the Shed was amazing; the seating was straw bales with a Welsh blanket covering under a corrugated steel roof. The barn-like structure was cosily lit and included an ancient tractor and a farmer manikin. There was an air of calmness and ease amongst the audience, the environment engendered an atmosphere of simple country living and a bygone, carefree age.
The Penrose talk highlighted his mother’s life as a model for the great photographers of the time such as Edward Steichen, Hoyningen-Huene and Arnold Genthe. Miller worked with Man Ray and set up her own studio as a fashion and portrait photographer in Paris. Penrose described the stimulating and exciting life of his mother and the artists she met and her job as a freelance photographer for Vogue. All through his talk Antony had to compete with a nest of bird chicks in the barn rafters calling for their supper and a distant blackbird calling-in the sunset. After a short break Penrose continued his mother’s story with an insight into her role as a combat photo-journalist during the 2nd world war. He described some harrowing incidences when his mother was under enemy fire and her commitment to faithfully record the horror of war, the concentration camps and the effects on post-war Europe. Penrose’ talk was a timely finale to the Imperial War museum exhibition of Miller’s work during the war which was concluded in April this year.
It was a very well presented and received talk that held everyone spellbound and intrigued at Miller’s artistic achievements and her natural humanity.