a great love

As a huge Marilyn Monroe fan, I was very sad recently to hear that Eve Arnold died, aged 99. She took some of the most iconic and intimate images of Marilyn and indeed, it was an Eve Arnold photograph that captured my heart when I was just 7 years old.

August 1977 and it was on a very dull and soggy day during a camping trip to the Lake District that we pulled into a garage for petrol. I was dressed in jeans, trainers and an anorak, my hair hanging in wet tails around my face. I had grazes on my hands and knees and I had spent the last week or more sleeping in a tent. I was a little girl missing her cream and pink bedroom, her dressing up box and pet cat (who often had to play dress up too…). And there she was.

Image: by Eve Arnold via bbc.co.uk

An absolute vision of beauty, light and femininity gazed out at me from not one magazine and newspaper cover but all of them. Or so it seemed. I will never forget that day and the first time I saw her. I had never seen a face so lovely and I just had to know more. According to the newspaper (I devoured it, hair dripping on the back seat and knee scabs all but forgotten), fifteen years ago to the date, Marilyn Monroe had been found dead in bed at her home. I fired questions at my mother and the more she told me, the more I had to know.

What’s changed? Well I’m older than the years Marilyn ever lived to see and it gives me great pleasure to cite her as one of the enduring loves of my life. I’ve grown up with her and gotten to know the proud and intelligent woman she was. I’m privileged to have viewed her personal items, touched her dresses and high-tailed it round New York in search of places she’d been and windy subway grates she’d stood over. But when it comes to seeing her image and needing more information, I’m still that 7 year old girl, blown away by the vision, every single time I see her.
Thank you Eve, and RIP

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