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Graham Nicholls...This is Your Life!

A long and eventful journey graced with humour and much of which to be proud!
Our oldest member, Graham Nicholls, renowned for the twinkle in his eye and wicked sense of humour, led our Thursday meeting this week with a well-planned tour of his life and changing relationship with the art of photography and his cameras. It was a fascinating journey that began with a very young Graham in a group street photo, taken on the occasion of the Coronation of George VI, and a second taken as he battled with a golf club at an early age.

Without quite knowing why, Graham became an ardent photographer with a reputation within the family for taking a good shot at family events, and we were led through a succession of these as faded black and whites with yellowed, triangular mounts and a host of anecdotes to accompany them! Graham has this way of engaging an audience with his wry humour and wide- ranging interests, so that they are never bored. Once into scout and army uniform, following his call up in the 50’s, the Graham (otherwise known as “Lank”) Nicholls we now know, became increasingly recognisable, as did Iris, his long-suffering wife and fellow traveller. Gradually the faded photos took on a new sharpness as he changed his cameras and increased his skills. Many of the cameras were there to be examined as well as illustrated. These took us back to a pre-digital, more simplistic age in which gear was lighter, and buttons and dials were limited, but we were certainly impressed by his skills in developing and printing his own work, and unsurprised at his enterprise in making a bit of cash along the way! We saw the tanks he worked on and the boots he shone and the beds he made daily in the army days, as well as the houses he lived in and the gardens that he and Iris transformed along the way.

Graham’s love of sport and deep interest in gardening and horticulture gave him lots to photograph, and as colour photography became the vogue in the 70s, we saw the shift to action shots in sailing , on the hills with motor cross, and on the rugby field as well as the more tranquil journey through his love of alpine plants and flowers upon which he became a real expert, and an accomplished author. Graham’s travels in America were well documented, and his stories of the folks he met along the way intrigued us, so that we were left with enduring images of a rather bewildered Graham armed with camera, being transported the length and breadth of the USA, giving talks and signing books, being amply fed and watered as well as supplied with a host of unusual plants that he returned to lovingly cultivate in Somerset.

However, his love affair with photography has continued unabated through his long association with NRPS, where latterly he has dabbled with abstracts in oil and water as well as photosynthesis, portraits and street photography in Bath and its surrounds that sometimes put him in the firing line! He is always willing to have a go at anything, and we as members are often treated to his skills of digital manipulation, as many of his memorable images are transformed with humour into something they originally were not! Graham takes his photography of flowers very seriously, and I for one am looking forward to seeing his, as well as others’, entries in the Triptych Competition for October, to be judged next week.

Jenny Short 07. 10.2022