Artist Biography - Simon Marsden
Sir Simon Neville Llewelyn Marsden, 4th Baronet (1 December 1948 – 22 January 2012) was an English photographer and author. He is known best for his uncommon black-and-white photographs of allegedly haunted houses and places throughout Europe.
Marsden's particular interest was "eerie" motifs like graveyards and old ruins, as well as the legends and tales that are often c...onnected with these places. Yet the gloomy atmosphere of Marsden's pictures is not based on careful choice of the motifs alone, but to the same degree on Marsden's photography technique, which included the use of infrared film.
Simon understandably developed a considerable following among fans of the supernatural. He said “It is not my intention to try and convince you that ghosts exist,” Marsden said, “but rather to inspire you not to take everything around you at face value. I believe that another dimension, a spirit world, runs parallel to our own, and that sometimes, when the conditions are right, we can see into and become part of this supernatural domain. The mystical quality of my photographs reflects this ancient order and they attempt to reveal what is eternal.”
"I suppose it was natural that I should develop an interest in such phenomena from an early age, as I spent my childhood in two archaic haunted houses, Panton Hall and Thorpe Hall, in the remoteness of the Lincolnshire Wolds. Here I would play for days on my own in the vast parklands with only my imagination as a friend. Both my father and elder brother were avid readers of ghost stories and I inherited the family's collection of books on the genre. My favourites were Arthur Machen and M.R. James, mainly for their emphasis on mysteries as old as time itself, but also for the subtlety of their narrative. In later years I was to discover the works of Edgar Allan Poe, whose dark tales of decaying mansions and moonlit abbeys seemed somehow to mirror my own obsession with the ghosts that haunted them.
Following on from the days of playing hide-and-seek in ancient attics and secret gardens, ever vigilant for the appearance of the 'family ghost', my father, himself a keen landscape photographer, gave me an old Leica camera on my twenty first birthday and I instantly became hooked on photography. What intrigued me most was the magic of time and light and the enigma of 'reality' that these elements conjured up. Over the years I have tried to portray this in various forms in my work: the unreality of the 'real' and the reality of the 'unreal'. The first roll of film that I shot was of cardboard cut-outs of ghosts that I arranged in tableaux in the gardens."
Simon Marsden’s extraordinary talent and dedication to his work took him worldwide in his search for historically interesting sites, where his intuitive vision would often see things which others may not. His unique way of developing his images, mostly from infrared film, convey his passion for this art form.
His photographs were also much admired for their technical excellence, and examples are held by the Arts Council, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Saatchi Collection, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the J Paul Getty Museum in Malibu.