Dirt: Prints charming
“Julian is like the Nan Goldin of 60s and 70s London.”
When Anna Perling interviewed Hilton Als about his Instagram account, he made a point that resonated with many Dirt readers: “photographers are people who are interested in memorializing things or who don't want to lose moments or feelings. The whole thing for me is about not wanting to lose touch with the feeling that the image gave me in the first place.”
It is unusual for most photography on social media to be feeling-driven, with so many of these platforms incentivized for lifestyle (and status) signaling. (We are now witnessing a rebellion to that with BeReal and the ouroboros of the Instagram algorithm itself.)
There is a novelty to unseen images in 2022—consider the near-fetishization of Vivian Maier, the posthumously-discovered photographer who launched, count them, four films/documentaries. Images now are made to be seen or shared. In the words of Susan Sontag, “Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”
So when Charlie Baker, friend of Dirt and editor of The Fence, approached me to share the work of photographer Julian Lloyd, I couldn’t resist highlighting him in Dirt. I hope the newly “seen” is as thrilling to you as it was to me. — Daisy Alioto
When I set up The Fence, our Instagram’s following numbered in the low hundreds, so I would always be interested to see who the new followers were. I was particularly intrigued by the account of @julianlloyd, who posted astonishing photographs that belong in museums—Ronnie Wood and his then-wife, Jo, admiring a racehorse, the world’s most famous model smiling for a close-up portrait, a kodachrome slide of an elfin Nick Drake wearing a Spanish blanket in the woods; there were beautiful photos, too, of the British and Irish countryside, black and white photos of rugged rural landscapes that I know well from my own childhood.
Julian’s own Instagram following was—and still is—around the 2,000 mark, and there was precious little information about him on the internet. After he launched an exhibition of his photographs at a London gallery—his first exhibition—I met him and was astonished to learn that he was not a professional photographer, but at the age of 75, a freshly retired horse stud manager, who had just left County Meath in Ireland to return to Britain. Julian had done a few commercial photography jobs in the 1960s, but had then pursued another career, taking photos the whole time, before amassing an archive which has almost been fully digitized, but contains many images that had never been seen before. The photos on display had been assembled with the help of Daniele Idini, who I spoke to on the phone alongside Julian a few weeks later. Our conversation below has been edited for length and clarity. — Charlie Baker
Charlie Baker: What qualities of Julian’s photography do you find especially interesting?
Daniele Idini: I was introduced to Julian through Hector Castells, who is friends with Julian’s daughter, Poppy. She said that her father needed help with his archive, which were these boxes of 35mm negatives in black and white. And I didn’t know much about Julian’s work at that point, the only thing I could find online was the Nick Drake photo, and the first day we worked together was the same day that Dolores O’Riordan [lead singer of The Cranberries] died, in January 2018, and the first negative we pulled out was a portrait Julian took of her in Dublin, on the day that the Cranberries signed their first deal with Island Records. And then we kept finding these amazing photos, I like to say Julian is like the Nan Goldin of 60s and 70s London, the guy never stopped shooting.
What I like is that the subjects are aware of the camera, even if it is candid, the subjects are very relaxed. They’re friends with Julian, even if they don’t know him that well. And the photos aren’t just portraits, the surroundings are important too—which you can see really well in the photo of J. P. Donleavy in the Burren.
CB: Julian, can you tell me why you decided to display your archive?
Julian Lloyd: About ten years ago, I was suddenly aware of the passage of time, and determined to make something of it, and friends and family had been urging me to get on with it, so I started working with Daniele.
CB: Daniele, how time-intensive has the process been?
DI: We’ve met about once a week, every fortnight for the last four years. I think we’ve got nearly everything done now.
JL: We’ve digitized about 80 percent of the worthwhile material, I’d say. It has taken years to get into shape. Before Daniele, Karena Hutton was a great help to me.
CB: Julian, can you tell me a bit about your career?
JL: Well I started out taking pictures in the 60s, and then came the hippie years, when I toured Britain in a horse and wagon for a short period and then lived on the Welsh borders, falling in with a local horse dealer. I became a full-time horse person in the early 70s. It was not a world I had any youthful familiarity with, but once I started I had the zeal of a convert and worked extraordinarily hard.
CB: I’m fascinated by the duality of working with horses and then taking photos as a hobby. You don’t have many photos of horses in your archive.
JL: You don’t want a camera when you’re working with horses, it’s going to get broken in three minutes, and horses are creatures of motion, so not rewarding to shoot.
CB: Are you happy with the way the archive looks?
JL: I’m thrilled with the way it looks. When the exhibition was on, my son told me, the “work stands up,” which was very gratifying, and I take inspiration from the example of Jacques-Henri Lartigue, who was only 69 years of age when his work was “discovered,” so that’s something to think about.
The Dirt: Never send to know for whom the shutter clicks; it clicks for thee.
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