Can Gazi’s “A Cup of Conversation”
Interview with Richard Chamberlain
By Margaret Sheard
I watched with interest the interview on Can Gazi’s “A Cup of Conversation” on BRT2 TV on Saturday 5th October at 7pm, when his guest was Richard Chamberlain who had published a fascinating book of photographs called Cyprus Scenes and Way of Life in 1954 and was currently due to have an exhibition of his photographs at The Round Tower in Girne from 4th to 12th October.
Can asked Richard about how the photographs originally came about and he said this was when he joined the British Army in 1953 and was posted to Famagusta in 1954, together with his brother, which to him was like visiting paradise and having his small camera with him he wanted to photograph everything. His photographs are mainly of people but seeing Famagusta and Salamis was such a different world to him in those days. He recalled that one day walking along a road in Famagusta with his brother they were suddenly approached by a number of camels and of course the camera came out to record this unusual scene.
Many years later Richard’s brother found the old negatives of all these photographs and this prompted Richard to look at them again and on having them re-printed he was amazed at the quality and so decided to have them produced in a book and having been in the printing trade a colleague offered to do this for him. Around 1000 books have been sold to date, 500 in North Cyprus and 500 in England through Amazon and other outlets. Richard said he still has his original little camera which is probably now a collectors’ item.
Can and Richard discussed some of the pictures in the book and on display in the studio, including the camels, children playing in the street and another of the Queen’s Birthday Parade and Richard had a story to tell about this – He was in the Royal Signals and arrived in Cyprus in 1954, a few days before the parade when he was on the parade square it was seen that his marching skills were lacking as he had not had the same time to practice as the others and he was told to take the day off which was very fortunate for Richard as he was able to photograph the event. The following year – 1955 was the start of the EOKA troubles and there was no parade held that year or since which means that Richard’s photographs of the parade were the last, so quite unique.
Can suggested that there may be people who will recognise themselves or relatives in those photographs of bygone days and Richard said that he had previously given a copy of his book to a taxi driver in lieu of a tip and was very surprised when later a lady contacted him to say she had recognised her father in the parade. The book had been shown to her by the taxi driver.
Richard said that he had the pleasure of meeting and giving a copy of the book and a panorama picture to Founding President, Rauf Denktaş, shortly before he died, and had spent some time talking to him and looking at his own photographs. Also a copy of the book had been given to former President, Mehmet Ali Talat. Richard was delighted to be able to pass books showing the important Cyprus heritage to some of the Leaders here in North Cyprus.
Can suggested Richard could perhaps produce another book showing a “then and now” concept and Richard said maybe this could be a project for the future although it would involve a great deal of work.
Richard recalled a time when he photographed the Kodak shop in Kyrenia, this was run by a Greek Cypriot who also was a keen photographer who used his pictures for post cards for tourists and servicemen, many of their photographs were identical so they must have moved in each other’s footsteps. At the time of the 1974 Intervention the shop owner left a lot of his possessions behind in Kyrenia but many years later Richard was contacted through the family and learned that a very large book had been produced by Laiki Bank in South Cyprus with the photographs by the Kodak shop owner, many of which are identical to Richard’s, so he contacted them and sent a copy of his book. In return the Bank sent a copy of this very large book to him which he is proud to have.
Can urged the public to visit the exhibition at The Round Tower where there will be around 100 photographs on display. The exhibition is from 4th to 12th October from 10am to 6pm and maybe it will be extended if it proves popular. If anyone wishes to make contact with Richard they can do so through Svetlana at The Round Tower.
Finally, Richard said that profits from any sales would be donated to Kyrenia Animal Rescue.
This was a very interesting discussion and I will certainly be paying a visit to The Round Tower during the week to see the many photographs on display and maybe I will have an opportunity of meeting and talking to Richard Chamberlain myself, who seems to be a very interesting character with great photographic talent.
For those of our readers who would like to purchase a copy of the book at The Round Tower in Girne, please contact Svetlana or Linda, telephone No. 0392 815 6377 or if you wish to purchase on-line from Amazon UK please click here. Purchase of the book will of course also benefit with a donation to Kyrenia Animal Rescue to help their task of looking after the many unwanted dogs and cats in North Cyprus.
To learn more of the Round Tower please see article and video by clicking here.