August 2013

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Harrison-Marks

Left to right: Mr. James Tye of the British Safety Council; The Rev. Gordon Guinness; glamour model Dawn Grayson and George Harrison Marks the photographer.

Back in 1964 a Harrison Marks photograph of Dawn Grayson, real name Kay Kirkham, wearing only sunglasses and a smile was used for a British Safety Council poster. The caption read “But I always wear my eye protection”. Naturally it caused a bit of a stir. Dawn Grayson, Harrison Marks, the Rev. Gordon Gordon Guinness, the 62 year-old vicar of St. John’s Boscombe, Bournemouth, and a chap from the Safety Council came face to face at the British Safety Council’s headquarters in London, on Monday 19 October, 1964 to discuss the matter.

According to the Daily Express at the time the dialogue went like this

Vicar: It’s salacious propaganda.

Dawn Grayson: If anyone finds anything dirty or sexy in that picture it’s in their minds — not the photo.

Vicar: I feel that a woman’s body is very sacred. It is sensible for her to expose it in certain circumstances, such as to doctors in hospital, not in a striptease club in soho. I feel that a poster like this in a factory will be associated in the minds of the people there with striptease and Soho. I think it will make it far harder for youngsters to keep steady. It is stimulating their desire. It’s making an altogether wrong use of sex appeal.

Dawn Grayson: All I can say if you want to ban nudity you had better put a screen round half the statues in London. I do not see anything sexy about the picture at all. I feel very strongly about this question because my husband, who works in a factory, has had to go to hospital several times to have pieces of steel removed from his eyes because he did not wear safety spectacles.”

Harrison Marks: “Wherever you look in the Vatican there are beautiful nudes. Why is a nude so wonderful in an art galley or a church but something obscene the moment it is taken outside?”

Vicar: Don’t ask me about the Vatican. I’m an ordinary Anglican Vicar.”

Council Controller: There are 1000 eye accidents a week. I see nothing wrong with this poster at all.

Vicar: I think the poster is doing more harm to the morals of the country than good in preventing accidents. It is part of an atmosphere that is in the country. A steady salacious propaganda. I am married and have five children and I am coming across illegitimate children, pregnant unmarried woman and this continuous sex stimulation all the time.

Council Controller: I think it will be one of the greatest safety posters perhaps of all time. We have had 50,000 already and reordered. We are thinking of increasing the size and producing it in colour.

Vicar: The young lady is charming – I think her husband is a very lucky man.

Dawn Grayson: I think the vicar is sweet. Obviously he feels he is doing his job.

 

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