Miriam Nabarro's remarkable pictures go behind the scenes to reveal the dramatic inner workings of the National Theatre... her photographs were taken...using obsolete [film]stock, were then cross-processed, a technique that fills the glossy squares with lustrous colour that seems appropriately theatrical. As with the NT, there is method behind this magic, and they celebrate all of its unsung organisationThe Independent on Sunday, 15 August 2010
photo taken from the flies of the Olivier Theatre looking down on Tim Hopkins set for Welcome to Thebes.
Only a third of the NT is open to the public: the rest is the domain of the technicians, actors and arists who work there. Between May and July 2010, I sought out the hidden corners and secret spaces of the iconic Denys Lasdun building.
My work reveals spaces that 'power': the plant rooms, air-conditioning channels, the road to the Bossari tank which once held 47,500 gallons of oil to fuel the building. I explore the 'body' of the building: the heart-like actors quadrant, giving light to each dressing room, and the 'spine' of Drum Row which links workshops, rehearsal rooms and stage areas. I seek to capture the marks and traces left over the years, by staff past and present, and highlight the unique architecture that makes the NT building one of the most admired in London.
The Process The National Theatre was being built in the same year as my 1974 Hasselblad was made. Keen to find the right medium and process to reflect the environment, I return to film and cross processing transparency film: a process of deliberately processing film in chemicals intended for a different type of film. This gives high contrast, unpredictable colour casts and a sometimes blown out quality often associated with polaroids of the 1970s and 1980s, now instantly reproduced as Hipstimatic filters. As the digital wave rolls on, my favourite Ektachrome 100 GX film has been discontinued, and this project is shot on the last remaining obsolete stock in London, making this an unrepeatable portrait.
The theatre designer and photographer Miriam Nabarro has been skulking around the hidden corners and secret places of the National Theatre...Using a Hasselblad camera older than the theatre itself, she gives these mysterious images a gorgeously retro feel, with high contrast and saturated colour, like a 1970s movie
The Times, 20 August 2010, Alex O' Connell, The Editors Choice, Visual Arts
The old Paint frame, which has since been remodelled
At the heart of the NT is the ‘quad’, onto which dressing rooms and workshops look upon. Tradition has it that on press night, when returning to their dressing rooms, actors and staff will rattle the windows in celebration of the lead performers.
The Shoe Archive, generally used as reference by designers and inspiration for companies
Colour wall in the Dye Room
Backstage at was previously The Cottesloe Theatre, the smallest of the NTs performance spaces.
Drum Road: the old ‘spine’ of backstage at the NT, there is now a modern walkway allowing the public to look down into the inner workings of the NT machine
Joey, the star of War Horse, created by Handspring in collaboration with the NT, is stabled on Drum Row
The Spitting Image puppet of George Bernard Shaw, who shouted loudly for the necessity of a National Theatre, casts a shadow in the Archive
The NT Studio, powerhouse of new work, once housed the first paintframe of the NT. The paint encrusted wall is now listed.