History of Horst P. Horst

Horst P. Horst (born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann in Germany, 1906-1999) rivalled the great fashion and portrait photographers of the 20th century, such as Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. His career spanned 60 years, from his first photo credit in 1931, and included 94 Vogue covers. Horst was described in Vogue as “photography’s alchemist,” so adept was he at transmuting light into dramatic atmosphere. He was a master of chiaroscuro, the art of strong contrast between light and dark, which he harnessed with such severe precision that it sometimes took him two days to construct his set.

Trained in architecture and design, Horst’s early pieces feature women given import by a fantasy of neoclassical arches and pillars. He had an eye for exquisitely expressive hands, which he eventually isolated in a 1941 surrealist portrait of four hands, two real and two of mannequins. Later, he became one of the first photographers to perfect the newly available colour techniques. In the 1960s, working for Vogue’s “Fashions in Living” pages, he photographed the interiors and gardens of the stars, from Andy Warhol to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Horst was adored by his models, evidenced by their effusive words of affection. One of his muses, Lisa Fonssagrives, said: “I became a model because he made me one.” He was so much a part of the fashion family that when he fought in WWII his identification tags gave the contact details of Edna Chase, editor of US Vogue.

Obfuscation of the inner world of the woman is a theme in Horst’s portraits. His models stare into the distance, their eyes often bewilderingly sad and far away, evoking unanswerable questions. The viewer becomes desperate to know the woman who is withheld. This invitation and frustration of the gaze are what holds the onlooker in such thrall of Horst’s images.

Composite photo of Susann Shaw, American Vogue Cover 1943

Composite photo of Susann Shaw
Composite photo of Susann Shaw

The picture looks at first like images of a woman reflected on shards of mirror, but on closer inspection the blue scarf from one neck flows around another’s head. A disembodied mouth and an elongated neck are reminiscent of Horst’s surrealist explorations of the 1930s. It was shot in Horst’s studio, and yet the image is banished to a dream world. The women both invite and deflect the male gaze; an image of one alone would allow the viewer to stare, but in this arrangement each figure directs the eye elsewhere, agitating the viewer who is denied a focus. The faces overhang the edge of the image, which becomes an abstract pattern; red lips become flecks of colour. The whole is both beautiful and chaotic, seductive and disconcerting.


Video: Squatters open a community garden on Spiritualist Temple site

A group of squatters on the site of a temple are opening their newly built community garden to the public, even while the fate of their home hangs in the balance.

The Rochester Square Spiritualist Temple, now home to over 40 squatters who call themselves the Rainbow Family of Living Light, launched a county court action to evict its inhabitants in March of last year.

The case is ongoing, but meanwhile the squatters are building a public green space, which will hold music and craft workshops for the community.

They have also built a water system, which uses the dishwater from the sink to flush the toilets in order to save water, and run a bicycle fixing workshop.

Though residential squatting was made illegal in September 2012, it remains legal in commercial buildings.

The temple’s 1926 foundation stone was laid by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes books.

Spiritualism is a belief that the dead have spirits which are able to communicate with the living, and was practised in the church through a medium.

Video: Have a look inside the temple to meet Erika Laine, from Finland, and Zain Mazari, from Pakistan, who on moving to England now identify as a part of the Rainbow Family:

Originally published by City Blogs

Four in 10 GPs taking time off for burnout

Exclusive Four in 10 GPs have taken or expect to take time off because of burnout as a result of increasing workloads and intense scrutiny, a Pulse survey has revealed.

The Pulse survey of 602 GPs found that 12% had taken time off in the past 12 months, while 29% thought they would probably need to in the next 12 months.

It is also revealed that 45% said that staff members in their practice had taken time off in the past 12 months.

Respondents said that heavy workloads and intense scrutiny from regulators and the media were to blame for the onset of burnout.

Commenting on the results, the GPC said workload was leading to a self-perpetuating cycle, in which GPs suffering from burnout are forced to take time off, passing the burden on to other GPs.

Following a Pulse campaign, NHS England agreed in May to fund ‘high quality’ occupational services for all GPs in England, having initially only agreed to fund services for GPs ‘where there are concerns about performance’.

However, it has not released details about the scheme, which are expected shortly.

A similar survey last year revealed that 9% of GPs had taken time off as a result of stress.

These figures mirror recent findings from the BMA tracker survey, which shows that GP morale is declining even further than last year, with three-quarters of GPs reporting unmanageable or unsustainable workloads.

Dr Raj Thakkar, a GP and clinical commissioning director at NHS Chiltern CCG, said practice colleagues had to take time off because of stress.

He said: ‘Medicine is highly oppressive, with CQC, scrutiny in the newspapers, unrealistic expectations and other agencies putting hard-working doctors under the microscope. All this is on top of working a lot more for a lot less. Is there any wonder there is a recruitment crisis?’

Dr Zishan Syed, a locum GP, said: ‘GPs are subject to terrible pressure and expectations on a workforce that is frankly exhausted.

‘A huge source of stress for doctors is fear of litigation and investigations from their local authorities or other regulatory authorities such as the GMC, sometimes simultaneously.

‘It seems sometimes that such investigations have already established a verdict of the doctor being guilty before hearing his/her perspective. Indemnity organisations continue to ask for huge sums of money, but some doctors have been dropped at the most critical points of their cases by their indemnity organisations, to whom they have been faithfully paying indemnity fees.’

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘These are extremely worrying figures that mirror the base reality of GPs up and down the UK. Even more concerning is the ripple effect of those doctors who take time off due to sickness on an already overstretched GP workforce, resulting in greater stress on those GPs remaining. We need to ensure that we take measures right from government through to local commissioning policies that manage the pressures on GP workload.’

Originally published by Pulse.

Almost one third of adult smokers have tried e-cigarettes

Nearly a third of adult smokers have tried an e-cigarette, also known as a vapouriser, official statistics have revealed.

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed that 3% of all adults reported they were currently using e-cigarettes, while around 6% of former smokers and 1% of non-smokers had used the products.

The figures also revealed that about one in four men (24%) and one in six women (17%) reported they were current smokers.

From 2016, e-cigarettes will be regulated as medicinal products, as covered in the EU Tobacco Products Directive passed in February 2014.

The Health Survey for England report said: ‘While some claim that e-cigarettes can be a useful adjunct to cutting down, others suggest that the co-use of e-cigarettes with tobacco cigarettes may reinforce the smoking habit by helping smokers when they are unable to smoke or may discourage cessation attempts.’

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: ‘For the first time we have been able to look at the use of e-cigarettes within our report, as well as looking at topics such as eye care, end of life care and social care.’

Originally published by Pulse

GPs warned to be careful when giving flu vaccine to Muslim patients

GPs will be advised to take care when immunising Muslim patients with a pork-derived influenza vaccine.

NHS England has issued information to CCG clinical leads, to be disseminated to GPs, that some groups within the British Muslim community might consider the Fluenz vaccine forbidden.

The Fluenz vaccine is being offered to two to four-year-olds to protect against severe complications of flu.

In its recent bulletin to CCGs, NHS England said: ‘There are a range of resources on the topic of porcine gelatine in influenza vaccine available on the Public Health England website, including Q&As for health professionals. CCG clinical leads should cascade this information to colleagues as appropriate.

‘However, we also acknowledge that some groups within the British Muslim community may consider the porcine product to be forbidden. In this circumstance, the individual would be unable to accept many pharmaceutical products unless there was no suitable alternative and/or the product was considered life-saving.’

The Department of Health and Public Health England have stated that there is no suitable alternative to Fluenz.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: ‘We strongly recommend that anyone whose child is offered immunisation accepts this opportunity to give their child the best protection possible against the flu virus.’

Jewish groups have said that the vaccine is acceptable.

Rabbi Abraham Adler from the Kashrus and Medicines Information Service said: ‘According to Jewish laws, there is no problem with porcine or other animal derived ingredients in non-oral products. This includes vaccines, including those administered via the nose, injections, suppositories, creams and ointments.’

Originally published by Pulse.

GP morale continues to plummet, BMA survey reveals

GP morale has declined from last year, with three quarters of GPs reporting ‘unmanageable or unsustainable’ workloads, said a quarterly BMA survey.

The survey of 140 GPs also found that as many as seven out of ten GPs are considering retiring early, and 61% report that they ‘always’ work outside of hours compared with 45% for consultants.

The 74% of GPs reporting unmanageable or unsustainable workloads is the highest rate when compared to other doctors, with 53% of consultants reporting their workload was unmanageable.

The morale of GPs has also seen the biggest decline over the last year, with average morale decling to 2.2 out of five, from last year’s figure of 2.6.

Around a quarter of GPc rated their morale as very low with a further four out of ten saying it was low. Less than one in ten said they felt their morale was high and not a single GP said it was very high

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, said: ‘It is clear that this is being caused by a working environment characterised by rising patient demand, falling resources, staff shortages and more unfunded care being moved from hospitals into the community.

‘With the state of GP morale as it is, we cannot afford for another set of broken promises from ministers or a prolonged period of murky fudge over this promised funding injection.’

Originally published by Pulse.

Carer cuts in Camden

Camden families will be forced to pick up the shortfall after massive cuts by the council to the number of professional carers over the next three years.

The council intends to train friends or volunteers to be unpaid carers for those who do not have “substantial and critical need”.

Michael Berry, 47, an unpaid carer of his mother who has Alzheimer’s, said “It is extremely unclear where the line will go, between those who will still be deemed eligible for council help and those who won’t.

“Being a carer is a great strain on me, which I don’t imagine many others having the strength to cope with.”

This measure will be introduced as part of Camden’s effort to meet a financial deficit of £70 million in cuts from central government by 2017.

The council currently spends £83 million a year on social care for adults.

Patricia Callaghan, Camden Cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “We are in an appalling position because of the cuts. We have to work within the parameters set by central government.

“We still have a duty of care for those with substantial or critical need, and will continue to help those people.”

A spokesperson from Camden Carers’ Centre said: “We know of the silent struggle that unpaid carers can go through when looking after someone on their own.

“This is often an extremely taxing job that shouldn’t be forced upon people, but unfortunately all too often it is.”