Photographer Mirella Ricciardi is to exhibit iconic and unseen works in the exhibition Past and Present at Augustus Brandt Gallery, Petworth, from now until January 2020.
With a career spanning over 65 years and many continents, Mirella Ricciardi is a creative force celebrated for capturing the people, wildlife and landscapes she encountered on her travels, and recognised for creating a fascinating record of east African tribal life, which led to the acclaimed book Vanishing Africa. The exhibition, Past and Present in collaboration with Augustus Brandt, a prestigious antiques and art destination store in the heart of Petworth, showcases 25 fine art, platinum, gelatin silver and contemporary chromogenic prints from her Vanishing and Contemporary Africa collection, plus never-before-seen work from her film and fashion collection.
The exhibition is a rare occasion to purchase previously unseen photographs, and for those new to Mirella Ricciardi’s work it introduces one of the most captivating photographic records of the last century. Highlight pieces in the exhibition include Peter Beard & Mock Elephant Charge (top of page), Pokot Dancers, and Iman and Peter Beard on Location.
The exhibition will also offer a unique opportunity to view Mirella Ricciardi’s prolific photographic career, including unseen prints, capturing close friend and peer Peter Beard on location with supermodel Iman, who Ricciardi discovered and introduced to Beard in Kenya in 1975.
Mirella Ricciardi was born and brought up in Nairobi, Kenya, to an Italian father and a French mother, and travelled extensively throughout Africa. She studied and mastered photography under the guidance of the great French photographer, Harry Meerson, for whom she worked as an assistant in Paris. She then moved to work in New York, where she met fashion photographer Erwin Blumenfeld, who suggested she go out into the field and start to hone her craft. She resided locally in East Sussex surrounded by her archives but recently returned to London. Here she is currently working with her daughter Amina (who is also director of the archive) on the ‘lost material’ found in Kenya in 2006. This collaboration between mother and daughter means that her legacy will be preserved for posterity.
Mirella Ricciardi’s first book, Vanishing Africa, was published in 1971. An international bestseller, it made her reputation; one reviewer wrote that it was ‘a masterpiece of photographic excellence’. She has since published four other photographic books – African Saga, Voyage of the Mir-el-lah, Vanishing Amazon, African Rainbow and most recently, African Visions. She is currently completing her “magnum opus’, which will include an update of Vanishing Africa and a retrospective of her life’s work.