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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Gladys Bagram: The Scent of a Woman and Her Love for Theo

A year ago, as I was coming to the end of a scanning project, I wrote this to my Facebook followers. For months I had been immersed in photographs from the 1920s and 1930s. They once belonged to Gladys Bagram wife of Theo Bagram, nephew of Sir Paul Chater from the period when she was in Hong Kong with Theo and Sir Paul. Gladys had a certain je ne sais quoi, and one particular evening she captured my mind again as she had done many times during the scanning.

Gladys Bagram
Gladys Bagram has an everlasting scent. Her perfume is on everything I am touching; photographs, postcards, documents. I am finally finishing off the scanning, and Gladys’s perfume hangs in the air, it wafts around me gently seeping up from the desk. It has the bouquet of a by-gone era, I see her standing in her finery and she is meeting me in every image with her 1930's perfume. It is quite extraordinary that it has lasted all these years and a perfumier would be able to recognise it in an instant. In the meantime, I'm in Hong Kong, South Africa, Rhodesia, Italy, Margate and even Taylor Avenue with her. She meticulously catalogued her travels with Theo, and after he died she continued to collect photographs and recount to her family her travelling tales.  Her presence and her fragrance accompany me through the scanning journey. Fleetingly, I am lost in time, absorbed into her world through her sweet-smelling photographs.

Theo Bagram
The even more extraordinary thing is the images of her beloved darling Theo smell even stronger of her heady perfume, exuding her passion and love for him in abundance. Her aroma is everywhere this evening as I attempt to finish the scanning of this last batch of photographs. The journey with these pictures has been amazing, their visual narrative is remarkable, I will attempt to give a voice to their life story, Theo and Gladys were irreplaceable. And her scent lives on.

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