Giugno 13, 2024

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STORM! EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RUPERT TRUMAN

Storm Thorgerson would have turned 80 today. To pay homage to him we interviewed Rupert Truman, director of StormStudios (alongside Dan Abbott and Peter Curzon) who also provided us with some unpublished shots.

Storm joking outside the Chicago exhibit. Photo © Rupert Truman

FC: How did your collaboration with Storm begin?

RT: It met Storm through my friend, photographer (now DOP) Tony May. I assisted him on jobs with Storm and on all sorts of other commissions as well, learning a huge amount about lighting and the business in general. I slowly became more and more involved in StormStudios work, location finding etc. I lived with the Division Bell heads outside Ely over the several weeks while they were standing and being photographed in different weather conditions. As time went by, Tony became more and more busy with his film work, which was very difficult for Storm, who liked his photographer on standby at all times…. Eventually, I took over all the StormStudios work, sometime in the early 1990s.

FC: He left you a “heavy” legacy in StormStudios. I think it’s an honor.

RT: Thank you. Peter Curzon, Dan Abbott and I are as busy as ever. We are well aware of the legacy and its importance, though the lockdown rather stopped our exhibition plans. We hope to restart exhibiting around Europe (and beyond) in the next year or two.

FC: It would be too long to talk about all the works you did for Pink Floyd. I chose two.
On the cover of the 2001 Best Of Echoes the waitress is crying. Do you know the reason?

RT: I have never thought about why the waitress is crying. I would say that it simply one of many poses that we will have tried on the day. Storm never liked straight portraits, so it is apt that her face is largely hidden by her hand. It also adds a sense of mystery to catch the interest of those who pour over the artwork! Our images tend to be like stills from a film, leaving the viewer to contemplate what’s going on in the story. There’s much to look at in this particular cover.

FC: For the 30th anniversary of The Dark Side Of The Moon a single of Money was released on SACD where a human face is seen reflected. Can you tell me who he is?

RT: We photographed that in the stained glass workshop where the piece was made. We think it was one of the members of staff at the workshop. I can’t tell you who it was – I never knew him.

FC: Let’s move on to the other SACD, the one that contains the album. Another human face. Who is it about?

RT: I believe that’s our very own Dan Abbott – dropped in afterwards I think.

In New Zealand on the train that went up the mountains of the South Island from Christchurch to Greymouth. Photo © Rupert Truman

FC: In all these years you will surely have an anecdote or curiosity about Storm that we don’t know about.

RT: The Echoes shoot mentioned above was a memorable day on the banks of the river Cam. Storm and I nearly parted ways that day as he was in one of his “difficult” moods. I was thoroughly fed up with him and had had enough of it. I told him I was quitting and was walking up the hill to the car, on my way back to the south of France, where my family were on holiday, Storm begged me to stay and finish the shoot, which I did. We got on a lot better from then on. He liked to test people and see what their limits were, and I reached my limit that day. His stroke was a couple of years later and that further softened him. When he was well enough following the stroke, we travelled alot for exhibitions, shoots, talks etc. He had a bucket list of places he wanted to see and started ticking that off. We went to Sydney for an exhibition and took a few days out to travel to New Zealand where he wanted to take the train over the mountains from Christchurch to Greymouth. Another great train journey we did was from Chicago to San Francisco. The train took several days of traveling through some stunning scenery through the Rockies before descending into San Francisco. One of our great pleasures was simply travelling and seeing beautiful scenes, pointing things out – part of what we did together making images was finding, in Storm’s words, a ‘particular’ landscape in which we’d set our scene.

Storm on the California Zephyr, the train that goes from Chicago to San Francisco. Photo © Rupert Truman

FC: Are you working on any projects at the moment?

RT: We’ve just finished working on a sleeve for Graham Gouldman, still under wraps so I can’t show it to you. Before that was a sleeve for Marsha Swanson – an old friend of Storm and his wife Barbie’s, before that a sleeve for Ann Wilson and Tripsitter. I work with Aubrey (Po) Powell (Hipgnosis) and recently went to Oberhausen to record the wonderful Hipgnosis exhibition there that has around 200 images on show over 3 floors. In recent years in his role as artistic director of Pink Floyd Po has been employing me to shoot sleeves and Peter Curzon to do the graphics and design work. A collaboration that has generated some wonderful artwork. I also make the fine art prints for many of the Hipgnosis exhibitions (Groninger and Oberhausen are two recent exhibitions featuring my prints). I’m involved in the film about Syd Barrett (Have You Got it Yet) which Storm and I started making before his death in 2013. Storm left to me to finish off. I brought in Roddy Bogawa to take on the role of Director. He’s a good friend and talented film maker who made the film “Taken by Storm” about Storm. He was involved in the initial planning of the film, and was slated to Direct, storms illness, brought the schedule forward, and meant that Roddy couldn’t be involved in initially. The film has had a theatrical release around the world and is about to go out on Arte in France and Germany and Sky in the UK. We’re currently working on other ways you’ll be able to see it which we will be promoting in the next month or so. Now I’ll show you some very curious photos.

Photo © Rupert Truman

Storm was supervising Dan, who was designing the image for “Planet Anthem”, a cover for the Disco Biscuits, on Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town.

Rupert Truman
Photo © Rupert Truman

This was taken during the Audioslave cover sessions in Lanzarote. Storm is rehearsing positions in different locations for the figure in the final cover, which is him in the red shirt.

Rupert Truman
Photo © Rupert Truman

A number of artists were commissioned to create elephant artwork to be installed in areas of London. This is the one we designed, installed at Hyde Park Corner  Hyde Park Corner.

Rupert Truman
Photo © Rupert Truman

At a stop on the California Zephyr. Storm always got to know the staff wherever he went. This was the lady in charge of our carriage who looked after us wonderfully over the trip. This is Storm having presented her with a red rose in thanks.

Rupert Truman
Photo © Rupert Truman

This is a funny one! Storm and I went to Rome to meet with people setting up the Pink Floyd exhibition in its original form. We went to a restaurant for lunch where Storm explained to the chef how he would like his Arabiata made. The chef came back with this hat, which Storm wore through the whole meal.

Rupert Truman

Interview by Francesco Madonia. Translation edited by Matteo Gherardi. All images courtesy of Rupert Truman.

BUON COMPLEANNO STORM! by Francesco Madonia is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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