Story

An Australian photographer at the height of London’s high fashion world finds that fame and success are no longer enough.

A Life Exposed: Robyn Beeche
Australian-born photographer Robyn Beeche became renowned in London for her iconic images of the 80s. In a time rich with experimentation and creativity, she was celebrated for her ground-breaking photographs of painted bodies, and her collaborations with counter-culture personalities Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood, Leigh Bowery and Divine.

Using the human body as a blank canvas on which to splash images, Beeche used tricks of make-up, lighting and composition to present trompe l’oeil techniques to great effect – long before Photoshop existed. These trademark shots featured in international publications, setting the style zeitgeist for a generation and inspiring video clips and album covers for pop luminaries David Bowie and Visage.

At the peak of her career in the mid 80s, Beeche was transformed when she first experienced the Indian colour-throwing festival of Holi. “Drawn like a magnet”, she gave up her high-flyer London career for the life-changing move to the Indian pilgrimage town of Vrindavan, and pursued a new spiritual focus to her photography. She immersed herself in the area’s vibrant traditions, playing a vital role in documenting them before they change beyond recognition due to the country’s rapid modernisation. 25 years later, her extensive archive is prized by international scholars, and her passion for documenting the vibrant local traditions continues unabated.

Weaving between Australia, London and India, A Life Exposed: Robyn Beeche uses observational footage, interviews, stills and unique archival footage of Beeche’s 80s London studio shoots. Exploring themes of transformation, spectacle, ritual and tradition, the film takes viewers into the energetic world behind Beeche’s process of constructing images, and examines the revived meaning she found for photography in India.

© Lesley Branagan 2013