Sorry, it’s Shmith – not Smith

I wonder how may times the above had to say that during his lifetime?

athol

I reckoned I purchased it sometime in the early 70s at OBMs, a book emporium on the corner of Collins and Elizabeth in Hobs. I remember purchasing novels there too – Graham Green, Andrea Newman, Margaret Drabble, Françoise Sagan. It’s long gone now, replaced by an Angus and Robertson and now it’s a chemist franchise. Lord knows where the book is now, but it was my first. As my confidence grew, others followed – but, being my first, it was a bit special.

athol smith stamp

The recent release of a set of stamps by Auspost – Mid-Century Fashion Focus, featuring the cream of the local photographers of the genre at that time, took me back there. One such, Helmet Newton, went on to great world-wide fame and presumably, fortune – renowned for his fine art nudes as well as his fashion portfolios. The others had local renown only. One, Athol Shmith, dabbled in nudes as well. And it was his book of beautiful women I forked out for, probably placing it amidst some other volumes to lessen the embarrassment, back in my uni days. I remember thinking how classy it was compared to Playboy and the other glamour magazines around then. As for the models – he went on to marry three of them whom he captured for public perusal. An extra allure was that they were local lasses. To me the emphasis was on ‘art’ rather than ‘nude’ – or, at least, that’s my excuse. Such publications, I recall, were quite rare back then on the shelves of genuine bookshops.

athol01athol02

Today there’s some glorious beauty to be had at the helm of a keyboard, but Mr Smith – sorry, Shmith – introduced me to eye-opening bewitchment, which I engaged with some more on one of my recent trips to Melbourne where the State Library had an exhibition of his fashion prints. Like OBMs, Athol S is long gone. But one can still view his images at various sites on-line – and now we have a stamp in his honour as a lasting tribute.

More images here – https://cv.vic.gov.au/stories/creative-life/athol-shmith/

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