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Public Faces Private Places

August 27, 2009

lousada.jpegActor Barry Rutter in his Satyr costume chatting with writer and director Tony Harrison during rehearsals for The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus at the Stadium at Delphi in 1988. Actor Tom Courtenay looking dreamily into the camera on location in author Alan Sillitoe's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner in 1962. Composer Benjamin Britten listening intently to a rehearsal for a concert in Blythburgh Church at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1961. Rocker Marianne Faithfull posing tiredly in a 1978 studio portrait. Painter David Hockney putting the finishing touches on a canvas while at art school in 1960. Actor Laurence Olivier giving his young daughter Tamsin a shoulder ride down the beach in Brighton in 1966. Chef Sally Clarke kneading bread dough in 1992.

I could go on and on and on.

The in-the-moment depth and candidness of photographer Sandra Lousada's portraits arrests anyone who turns the pages of her new book, Public Faces Private Places: Portraits of Artists 1956-2008. Lousada grew up amidst a circle of actors, writers and artists. Through her grandfather, writer and politician A P Herbert, her mother, stage designer, Jocelyn Herbert, and Jocelyn's partner George Devine, founder of the Royal Court, she had privileged access to the world of literature, the arts, theatre and film. Yet for all her connections, Lousada's portraits give off an air of softness and, above all, respect. This is not the work of someone who feels smug about being in the "inner circle". Neither does it come across as being star-struck.

London's National Theatre is exhibiting portraits from the book between September 7 and October 17. The free exhibition brings together a selection of photographs which capture the insider's view of figures including Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Julie Christie.

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