Carinthia West (b.1951) is a model, actress, photographer, writer and a muse to rock icons. Growing up in the presence of some of the most iconic names in music, film and society, West has always kept a camera by her side, capturing intimate moments of star-studded names who crossed her path. As ‘Muse’ Magazine wrote, Carinthia was “a free spirit, blissfully unaware that she was candidly recording icons and iconic moments of the times’. Or as Ronnie Wood puts it “Carinthia took photos while we were getting on with life...”.
At sixteen, West was discovered standing at a bus stop on the King’s Road by Beatles photographer Robert Whitaker. Whitaker, who shared a flat with Eric Clapton, opened the door to a world filled with sixties icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Marianne Faithfull, and Anita Pallenberg. In 1976 West was chosen by Eric Idle to act in his comedy series ‘Rutland Weekend Television’, and the cult film ‘The Rutles’. She always took her Canon cameras on set, keeping a visual diary, and over the years came to photograph George Harrison, Helen Mirren, Carly Simon, David Bowie, Anjelica Huston, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Robin Williams, Neil Young and Paul Simon, to name a few. Through the friendships West developed with her subjects, photographing them in casual, intimate and poignant moments in their lives, her portfolio became a collection of honest, real-life photos of highly celebrated 20th century names.
For most of the 1980’s Carinthia was in Los Angeles where she acted in TV, film, as well as a play with Anjelica Huston. She worked as style editor for L.A. Weekly and by 1990 had become a journalist and contributing editor for Marie Claire, Harper’s and Queen, Harper’s Bazaar, Tatler, the LA Weekly, Saga, The Independent, and The Telegraph. This led to interviews with personalities including Donald Sutherland, Carly Simon, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, Dennis Hopper, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and John Hurt. However, Carinthia admits “It wasn’t until my Godchildren discovered the photographs, negatives and slides in a cupboard and persuaded me to print and exhibit them, that I realised there might be a new younger audience to appreciate the work”.
West has had exhibitions across the world, at venues that include the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), St Paul’s Gallery (Birmingham), Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens (Cornwall), Soho Contemporary Art (New York), and San Francisco Art Exchange (San Francisco).