I am sitting in the jewel box that is Number 15 Great Pulteney Street – drinking a welcome cup of hotel-poured coffee – and about to meet a living photographic legend.
Well, Clive Arrowsmith didn’t set out to be an international whiz kid with a camera. He was an art student who – in the end – got bored with how long it took to paint an image.
So instead this boy from Mancot in North Wales switched to taking pictures – while working as a graphic artist for Rediffusion TV – makers of the legendary music show Ready, Steady, Go!
His skills behind the camera set him free to work full time on fashion shoots for leading fashion magazines like Vogue, Harpers and Vanity Fair.
He’s also immortalised many a global celebrity – everyone from David Bowie, Tony Curtis, Prince Charles and the Dalai Lama to name just a few.
So why am l meeting him at Bath’s brightest boutique hotel? He’s back in Bath to take pictures and to publicise an exhibition he is holding in the city in December.
Our local rock star celebrity Peter Gabriel asked him to come to Bath back in 1978 and take some shots of the ex Genesis singer at some well-known architectural and countryside locations.
Peter was into surrealism and wanted to reflect that in the pictures Clive took. They were recently featured on Clive’s on line blog and spotted by Tim Beale – from Bath Preservation Trust – who made contact with him and asked if he’d like to come back and take some current shots that could be displayed – beside the originals – at a city-based exhibition later this year.
It will be held at the Museum of Bath Architecture in December and will also include other images from Clive’s extensive body of work including images of the Dalai Lama (Clive is a buddhist) David Bowie, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Mick Ronson and Kate Bush.
He’ll also be doing a programme of events and talks at Number 15 as well as running a studio photography workshop where – with a gift to charity – he will take your picture.
So just as l drained the last mouthful of my Cafe Americano there was Clive settled behind the conference table – surrounded by his photographic prints and ready to talk.
Tim Beale was there to watch and Clive’s daughter Eugenie on hand to make sure all ran smoothly. Other spectators included Emma Clegg – the editor of the Bath Magazine – and BPT’s press officer Janey Abbott.
Let me just make it clear that although Clive talks about the Cathedral of Bath several times – he means the Abbey.
Clive had first photographed Peter Gabriel as a member of Genesis and that’s why apparently Peter asked him to come take some more to help launch his solo career.
I asked Clive if he’d take a picture of me with Janey Abbott from Bath Preservation Trust using my iPhone. Here is the result!