Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Norman Tudgay

Norman Tudgay is a relatively obscure figure who deserves a bit more recognition for his experimental contributions to photography. Born in 1925 in the mining village of Nantyglo his family moved to Swansea during the Depression so that his father might find employment. Tudgay attended art school in Swansea before joining the RAF in 1943. He was one of the first photographers to enter Hiroshima after the war - an experience that deeply affected him. Upon returning to civvy street he decided to join Ifor Thomas's influential photography course at the Guildford School of Art. In the 1950s Tudgay began making experimental photographs using cliché-verre, a process that was first used in 1839. This involves a design being scratched onto a glass plate which is then applied to sensitive paper (see pic). This non-representational approach to photography is in keeping with the post-war taste for abstract art which was then conquering the world. Tudgay is often bracketed with English abstract photographer Raymond Moore who regularly visited the Welsh coast to take extreme close-ups of decayed houses and rock formations. In the 1960s Tudgay enjoyed a more conventional career as a fashion photographer (a retrospective of his fashion photographs was held at the Collyer-Bristow Gallery in 1999). In 1969 Tudgay entered the academic world, becoming principal of the Bournemouth College of Art. He also opened a French restaurant in the area which proved to be popular.

*The above picture is Cliché-Verre (1955) by Norman Tudgay.