From her early teens Garlinda spent many hours watching her father, the photographer George Llewellyn, in the dark room.
She didn’t actually pick up a camera herself until her twenties. Since then it has been her work and absorbing focus bringing great pleasure to family, friends, clients and collectors, as well as generating funds for the many charities she supports.
In recent years her focus on photographing wild desolate landscapes has helped to build her reputation as a highly respected photographer and artist.
Her body of work inspired by a trip to Antarctica in 2012 attracted attention from Antony Horrowitz:
“I think her work is extraordinary. She manages to capture the very essence of Antarctica as I experienced it, yet makes it her own. A tiny bird snatched out of snowstorm, a crabeater seal clinging for life on a diminishing square of ice … she photographs life where there should be none and almost effortlessly recreates the eternal drama. Once again, I am in awe.”
And Robin Woodhead CEO of Sotheby’s:
"Work of outstanding quality and impact ... a photographic eye that deserves the broadest acknowledgement ... an emotive connection to each one of her subjects delivered with superb technical ability."
In 2016 she visited Iceland and in 2017 Patagonia and Atacama. The result is a stunning body of work exhibited at a show title Signs of Life.
The works on show reflect the instinctive approach that Garlinda takes to her photography; images that powerfully convey the monumental, primitive and often desolate nature of these landscapes and how they either dwarf or obliterate, or sometimes mimic, signs of human existence.
Drawn to a particular image of a church exhibited at the show, Antony Gormley writes:
“A black-and-white photograph of a black and white church photographed in a snowstorm against a bleached sky in which ground and air seem connected through the promise of a distant horizon. The scene is made immediate by the short diagonal flecks of falling snow.
The image is dark but full of feeling, the means limited but the effect wide. It talks of a human need for shelter not just for the body but for our imagined visions of the other side of an unknown and ill-perceived horizon.
A photograph is the registration of a time in a place. Photography is a form of witness. It is the proof of a moment lived and a place perceived and inhabited. At their best these simple coordinates of procedure become a meditation on time, place and memory.
Birkbeck seems attracted to the remote : Patagonia, Antarctica, the Galapagos, Lock Hourn, places apart in which the choreography of weather works on geology. In these places her work asks whether it is possible to register the internal in witnessing the exterior.
There is a great tension between her empathic treatment of human subjects: in which she captures a moment of connectedness between people and these stark often uninhabited places into she projects an equal sense of engagement.
These by products of an act of witness are only available to an open spirit humming with life. It is in this generous spirit that she offers us as a ground for our own feeling and thought.”
Garlinda is also a highly accomplished portrait photographer. She photographs without artificial light and as naturally as possible.
As well as photographing family and friends, her commissions include the portraits of past and present Treasurers of the Inner Temple, where her many portraits hang, the Millennium documentation of the Houghton estate in Norfolk and the Cholmondeley estate in Cheshire. Her photographs of older women are included in Harriet Walter’s book Facing It.
She recently became a Trustee for a charity called Familia: a tiny community in West Bengal, India, that provides a loving family life for orphaned or abandoned children and a secure haven for aged women and men who are without a family of their own. The show Signs of Life helped to raise awareness and funds for Familia.
© 2019 Garlinda Birkbeck