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Norman Parkinson, one at the world’s top photographers has brought thousands at images into locus, irom reportage and tashion to the Royal Family, tilling trame with tame. His photographs have appeared in almost all the world’s periodicals. Here he enters David Williams’ No Man’s Land and sees the pupils at a private eye.

40 The List 7— 20 Mar

Once upon a time there were jokes about the Irish. but preceding them. I recall there was a series which posed the question ‘What is the height of. . .1" ofambition.of frustration. ofcallousness. of astonishment. etc. . etc. . and the one that I remember sprang back in relation to this book ‘What is the height ofastonishment'." Reply: "I‘he Mother Superior who found the seat lifted.‘

Right away I must tell you that I found this wonderful book excellently reproduced in Hong Kong without detracting one iota from David Williams‘ sensitive photographs the projection of the idea to ‘hide‘ a resident male camera ‘behind the arras‘ in a pubescent female seminary was farseeing to a degree.

David Williams‘ prologue tells us that the Scottish Arts Council sponsored this project; so it is to them (or to a particularly enlightened individual on that Council). together with. dare I say. a slightly apprehensive lleadmistress. that one of the most absorbing and informative visual records of the late 20th century now exists.

I do not know St Margaret‘s School for Girls in Edinburgh. but it appears to be a typically dour and forbidding incarnation. Likewise. l have never seen any work from David Williams' camera. so that I became the third person. the observer. in a freshly squeezed naive trinity.

Here I make observations which are easily refutable. but as a self-ordained water diviner i must make them. Firstly that David

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Williams the photographer is not conversant with the keyhole world of Balthus in which maidens stretch and sigh unaware ofthe power of their own bodies observed. and secondly a collection ofsuch unpretentious images. quietly gentle as a tune on a one-string fiddle. because oftheir integrity. gather power from each other’s truth to compound into a Wagnerian overture.

The majority ofthe images are made doubly effective by the unmodern mood ofthe photographs I wonder if this was planned? Certainly this mood was imposed on the assignment by use of an‘ancient Rolleiflex that never actually takes what you see on your groundglass. ()fcourse. the book is not Victorian. but possibly Edwardian. everything about it is turn-of-the-century. All