Remembering Rhonda WilsonWritten by Benjamin Chesterton
I first met Rhonda Wilson a few days after one of Rhubarb Rhubarb’s (the photo development company she set up and ran with Lorna) yearly portfolio reviews. Every year they opened their doors for interested people to come down and look at the work on review (and meet the photogs).
I rarely go to private views/meet the photog events because I find them quite intimidating. There can be more ego than art on show (or fists if Anastasia Taylor Lind is about) and you get a better chance to look at the work when everyone around you is not looking at everyone else wondering if they are worth talking to.
For once I made the effort and I’m glad I did.
A few days later I emailed Rhonda (who I’d never spoken to) to say I liked a lot of the work but why was the room exclusively full of white people? We live in Birmingham, afterall, one of the most multi-cultural cities on the planet. I expected the usual guff but instead Rhonda replied that she thought it was shit (the lack of diversity in the photography world) and would I come and meet her and the rest of the Rhubarb crew?
We hit if off, but then you would have to make a real effort to not hit it off with Rhonda. Her energy and enthusiasm was infectious. She had crazy dreams and many of them, by the force of her nature, came true.
In the early days of the company we did quite a bit of work together. I always felt that not only did she appreciate what we were trying to do at duckrabbit but she also had our back. She supported us. That meant a lot.
This evening it’s with sadness that I read Rhonda has died.
That double take moment. Fuck. Really? Yes.
I would like to think that when I die I will have done more good than harm. I don’t think I’m there yet but I can look to Rhonda for inspiration. She gave so much to so many for so long. She may not have been a great photographer but she was one of photography’s greats; she was great for photography. An egalitarian eye open to all.
God bless you Rhonda. You were art and the best of you lives on in all whom you encouraged.