Ariadne van de Ven

Photo by Ariadne van de Ven

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that LIP member Ariadne van de Ven died on 14 March after a short illness. She was 56. She was a very talented and thoughtful photographer, as well as a valued member of LIP and a great personal friend to many, including me.

Ariadne’s best-known work is her extensive range of portraits from Kolkata, a city she loved very much. She believed strongly that her photographs were a collaboration between herself and the person she was photographing, and her portraits are full of life revealed in the shared moment of interaction. Working with film cameras, she would print photographs when she was back in Richmond and then take them with her to give to the participants on her next trip. Her black and white prints are full of life, dignity and with touches of shared humour. Not all are portraits: her observations of the city are equally nuanced, with an understanding that things are never quite as they seem.

She spoke and wrote fascinatingly on photography, and especially about her work in Kolkata. I hope we will be able to find a way to publish her absorbing long essay, The Eyes of the Street, written for her MA on Place, Environment and Writing in 2015.

Ariadne was an active member of the LIP committee as well as being a pivotal contributor to meetings of the Central satellite group. She was very much a driving force in getting the Central group to where it is now: during our meetings her comments were always insightful and supportive, especially to people new to photography and finding their own vision and voice. That didn’t stop her being honest, but she was able to communicate reservations and criticisms in a way that enabled us to understand them and appreciate the significance of what she was saying.

Some of us were able to spend time with her in hospital and the hospice. She was surrounded by family and friends and was completely without self-pity or regret. She said how much she had enjoyed her life and accepted what was happening to her with dignity and her usual calm thoughtfulness about others.

She told me she wanted to be remembered and not missed; it’s hard not to miss her, but it’s very easy to remember her and all that she brought to photography, to LIP and to her friends.

There will be a longer appreciation of Ariadne and her work, with more of her photography, in a future issue of fLIP.

– Hugh Look, Central London Satellite Group