David Townend Photography

International Photography Awards
Winner of 3 Honorable Mentions in Still Life, Fine Art and Deeper Perspective categories. International Photography Awards 2010, Los Angeles.

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George's Place, Los Angeles, 2010

George died a week before his 97th Birthday in the house he had lived in since the 1940’s, when he moved there with his wife. She died in 1969, and George lived there for 41 years on his own, until his own death in 2010.

In George’s world I was a late arrival…I met him in 1997. As I got to know George it struck me that he must be one of the most fiercely independent, mentally active, unassuming gentlemen I was ever likely to meet. Right up until the end of his life, he would refuse to accept domestic help, and even went so far as to deal with troublesome teeth by his own means at home, rather than visit a dentist.

At each meeting I would learn something new. I remember him telling me about his days working in New York in the 1930’s for Benton & Bowles, an advertising agency (later to become DMB&B). On another occasion, he described watching with his mother from an upstairs window at his father’s tailoring business the US soldiers returning home from Europe after the First World War in 1918, Cleveland Ohio. He was 4 years old.

We used to go out to restaurants and talk about ‘things’. With George anything was game, but cinema was big. And he really knew his European Art House Cinema. I don’t know any other man in their 90’s who’d effortlessly reach into his bookcase, hand me a book on the russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky, and say with a glint in his eyes “I thought you’d like to keep this.”

George was quality. Pure and Simple.

In life, George was pretty successful at avoiding my camera. I did take some ‘interesting’ candid portraits of him, but these moments of connection with the camera were fleeting. The images in the series “George’s Place” are one last search for George.

In Absentia. A Forensic Portrait.

Extract from an article first published in
Uncertain States arts newspaper in August 2010