Antony Basil, Deceased Member Since February 2016 Artist Statement Antony Basil was born in Rickmansworth in 1913, the son of the well known London photographer Angus Basil Brown and wife Mildred, he had one brother, Berkley. On leaving school Antony went to St.Martins College of art where he excelled in life drawing. However he naturally progressed into photography and joined his father in his studio where he produced hundreds of beautiful images of female models. Before the war he met Jenny, a dancer who he married in 1942.
Antony had come from a long line of pacifists; his father had refused to fight in the First World War and likewise his grandfather in the Boar War. He and his brother followed suit and were imprisoned for a period as a conscientious objectors in the Second World War. The air raids destroyed the studio and they had to reestablish the business in a tatty basement in Denman Street. Antony Basil won many awards for his photography and was featured in journals such as photogrames of the year and was an associate of the photographic society and the institute of photography.
In the late 40’s-early 50’s Antony Basil taught photography and among his students was the famous film director Ken Russell who was responsible for The Devils and Women in Love and many other innovative films.
As a man possessed with uncompromising beliefs and principles his increasing disenchantment with what he felt to be the pretentious posturing of the art world, and the workings of the its market was driving him towards considering a different, more wholesome lifestyle.
In 1954 he visited Devon on holiday with his wife Jenny and their three sons and decided to stay. The possibility of earning a livelihood in the type of photography, which interested him in Devon in the 1950’s, was out of the question and he didn’t want to run a studio catering mainly in child portraits and weddings, so instead, he satisfied his desire for a simple life by becoming a farm hand. This was a very different life to that which he and Jenny had known in London, but he adapted well and found fulfillment in it.
After his retreat from the rat race Antony defied conventional attitudes to money, in his refusal of payment, over and above his working wage for any work he did, including his hobby, sculpture. Often his principles were at odds with the needs of a woman bringing up five children on the wage of a farm hand, but he had no interest in the trappings of society, and was adamant in his convictions.
He didn’t pursue photography again, even as a pastime, until his retirement, which was short, as the impending immobility of old age was not a restriction he would endure. All the photographs were stored in the loft and only occasionally viewed by interested parties who got wind of his previous profession, or by family members.
Antony Basil died of a heart attack in 1992. Reproductions of what remains of his unusual collection of photographs are now available to order.