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Football With Rod Stewart, Beach Days With The Rolling Stones And More Intimate '70s Moments
"I thought I would have the hippie dream of the '60s, but by the time I got out there it was a bit late," British model and actress Carinthia West said of her arrival in California in the early 1970s. After a brief detour to the Haight-Ashbury, she arrived in Los Angeles and found another paradise of sorts: a golden-hued artistic atmosphere where some of the biggest icons of rock 'n' roll were her closest friends. She lived for a time with Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood in Malibu Colony before moving to the Hollywood Hills, where she shared a "flat" with Helen Mirren and Errol Flynn’s daughter Rory. West later took to journalism, and served as a style editor at L.A. Weekly.
For years, she took intimate shots of her friends and makeshift family, stopping time with her camera for her own scrapbooks. "When we took photographs of each other, we weren't as conscious of being in front of the camera," she recalls. "They were just my mates." Her photographs, most of which were taken between 1975 and 1985, center around Malibu, where an eclectic group of friends would gather at Wood’s beach house to “hang out."
"Carinthia took photographs while we were getting on with life," as Ronnie Wood put it.
With the easy trust of a close friend, West chronicled days and nights with Mick Jagger, Helen Mirren, Anjelica Huston, and David Bowie, among many others. She shot from the sidelines at Rod Stewart's weekly football games in Coldwater Canyon, and piled in the car with half the Stones to head west from Malibu to the hospital the night that Ronnie Wood's wife gave birth to their son Jessie James. In that case, the car was actually a vintage hearse owned by Neil Young and driven by Young's right-hand man, Mazzeo. The motley crew was stopped by police as they sped toward Cedars-Sinai with West timing Krissy Wood's contractions in the backseat. "The officer took one look at us and thought we were mad, and then said, 'Well, I'd better escort you to the hospital,'" West recalls.
"The snaps you take today become tomorrow's social anthropology, in a funny way," West told LAist. She returned to England in 1989, and now lives in Cornwall.
The famous figures she captured on film remain close friends of West's, but the pictures languished in her attic for decades, until her nieces and nephews took an interest in them sometime around 2005. Soon, others did too, and after asking permission of everyone pictured (or the estates of those who had since passed), West's photos were exhibited on the Isle of Wight in 2010. Now, she says she is thrilled to be working with KM Fine Arts to show her once private photos in Los Angeles.
"Hanging Out" by Carinthia West will be on view at KM Fine Arts from May 16 until June 30, 2017. KM Fine Arts is located at 814 N La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Grove. The gallery is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (310) 854-0540