Rams & Owls, Pride & Prejudice, Grace & Ava

Posted on September 6, 2012 by Admin under The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer

After a hectic week inside trying to finalise my Belper, Duffield and Milford calendars (more on this in future web logs), I spent yesterday – Saturday Aug 18 – mainly outside on, appropriately, the warmest day of the year.  Is it me or is it that every opening day of the football season is a lovely day?  I can’t recall a bad one in all my 45 years of attending matches.

After the elation of the Olympics – with all that fair and honest play on show – I approached the start of the football season with a feeling veering on detachment.  Ok, it was Derby v Sheffield Wednesday and I know that Championship players are not paid anything like the how-do-they-get-away-with-it? wages of Premiership players but they still get paid enough to cheat in pursuit of a result.  I was ashamed to see Rams players wasting second half time when 2-1 up, especially as they could have been using that time trying to get forward in the way they did in the first half when they were well on top of a dire Sheffield Wednesday side.  Rams 2 – Owls 2 was about fair in the end.  For Derby, mid-table mediocrity beckons once again.

If only the talent on show in the evening earned as much for their efforts.  Over the last two Saturday evenings, I have greatly enjoyed the performances by Chapterhouse Theatre who tour outdoor venues every summer.  By an extraordinary coincidence, two friends of mine – Ava and Grace – have landed plum roles in two productions each, and with this same touring company.  More extraordinary still, they are sisters, and their respective tours have given both of them the biggest breaks of their career so far.

The reason they have become friends is that I came to photograph them professionally.  And, boy, were they professional.  In fact, they gave ME a big break when I asked them to become the faces of the new Derby St Peter’s Quarter as the images I produced of them so delighted the St Peter’s Quarter Manager.  Here’s one of the best images I got on our day together.  A significant image, too, in the sense that Ava and Grace’s faces are now all over those buses!

It’s a shame that some of the images I got that day are redundant as Ava was sporting a carrier bag from Jacobs Camera Shop, which has now closed.  I feel really sorry for the guys who ran that shop because they, at least, seemed to be doing a brisk trade, and also provided the ultimate in customer service.

Anyway, back to Ava and Grace.  I saw Ava (she’s actually Amy – Ava is her stage name) last Saturday as Gwendolyn Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest in the Buxton Pavilion Gardens.  She is a terrific presence, very assured, and blessed with great comedic timing.  One of her best lines makes me wish that Oscar Wilde was alive in this age of blogging and tweeting: ‘I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.’

Last night, I saw Grace as both Lydia Bennett and Caroline Bingley in Pride & Prejudice on a warm and pleasant evening in the grounds of Ashby Castle.  She was amusingly headstrong as Lydia and delightfully haughty as Caroline.  Her facial gestures alone produced smiles and laughter.

One gets such a warm sense of pride watching a performance by someone you know – I have had a beautiful last 20 years of that with my daughter Helena – so imagine what it was like for Ava and Grace’s mother Kirsty who sat with me for both performances.

Both Ava and Grace could be destined for even greater things.  If you can see them before the tour ends early in September, check out the Chapterhouse website here.  They perform at some wonderful venues.