Remembering Norman Parkinson
Actor Kate Fitzpatrick was in her late 20s when she was invited to be photographed by Norman Parkinson in 1977. They first met at the legendary Sydney restaurant Le Café. At the time it was the place where actors, writers, artists, lawyers and politicians converged. Here she shares her memory of what it was like to work with him.
“I was having lunch with friends when someone came over and said Norman Parkinson would like to take my photograph. I looked across the room and a very tall man in a loose whitete linen shirt and an embroidered skull cap stood up and waved. He had a silver-white moustache, a big Terry Thomas smile and very sparkly eyes. I waved back. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but was instantly charmed. He was funny, easy and relaxed.
“He said the photos would be for Australian and English Vogue. He decided to come home, where I lived with my family, and shoot me there. He arrived early the following day wearing a differentr cap, with his assistant Robert Pascall and boxes of equipment.
“My parents’p place was a big two-storeyed flat on the edge of the harbour at Cremorne Point. The wallsal were painted white and all the floors were black and white chequerboard tiles. The living room upstairs had a large deck with incredible views. In the middle of the room Mum had placed a huge palm tree in a Chinese pot. The furniture was a mix of cane and old dark wood. Norman said he felt at home: it reminded him of the Caribbean.
“We had a lot of fun. He ended up using the location for a couple days, shooting other people as well. My mother is an artist and they got on very well. He took her photo, too, but I don’t know what happened to it. He helped her make lunch for everyone. I was too dazed to eat. Or help.
“I still feel very lucky to have met and worked with him. It was exciting and a great privilege.”