New Orleans-style farewell for world-renowned Shoreham-based photographer

Shoreham bids farewell to Marilyn Stafford - pic by Wayne A PillingShoreham bids farewell to Marilyn Stafford - pic by Wayne A Pilling
Shoreham bids farewell to Marilyn Stafford - pic by Wayne A Pilling
Shoreham bade a fond New Orleans-style farewell to Marilyn Stafford, celebrated photographer and long-time resident of the town.

Marilyn died aged 97 on 2 January 2023. Led by Lina Clerke, Marilyn’s daughter and her husband Titus, a procession of family and friends took her colourful coffin through the town, decorated with flowers and with musical accompaniment from the Agitators band.

Rosalind Turner, of Shoreham Wordfest and good friend, said: “She was an absolute inspiration and such fun to the end.”

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“Mourners gathered outside the SOLD charity shop on the High Street, which has a window display of Marilyn’s wonderful photographs. The cortège continued along the High Street to the War memorial in East Street for songs, dancing and tributes to Marilyn before the formal funeral took place in Brighton.

“Marilyn lived an exciting and varied life. Born in Ohio, USA, Marilyn’s first photograph was of Albert Einstein in 1948 when she was a student in New York. She was a nightclub singer in Paris mixing with Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour.

"Her portraits feature models such as Twiggy and Joanna Lumley alongside film stars such as Lee Marvin. Marilyn had a strong sense of social justice and reported about refugees in Tunisia fleeing the brutal civil war in Algeria and when accompanying Indira Gandhi in India, she saw the tragic impact of warfare, particularly on women. For many years her remarkable legacy of photographs was left untouched and rarely mentioned.

"Marilyn continued to campaign for refugees and was an active member of the local community in Shoreham; she had a passion for poetry, organising the Adur Poetry trail and was a founder member of Shoreham Wordfest. In recent years her reputation has had a late renaissance with exhibitions and international recognition for her photography, thanks to dedicated work by her daughter Lina, and Nina Emett of FotoDocument. We are also hoping to establish a Poetry Corner in Shoreham town as a permanent tribute to her.

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“Marilyn’s photos remain on display in the window display at SOLD charity shop and some are on permanent display in the eye hospital at Southlands Hospital.”

Stafford was one of few women photographers working for national and international newspapers and magazines at the time and was also one of very few women on the camera/stills Executive Committee of ACTT/BECTU. This gave her an insight into the difficulty of balancing a career in photography with single motherhood, which many years later led her to set up the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award to support women photographers globally.

In 1972 Stafford spent a month photographing Indira Gandhi, India’s only woman Prime Minister at home and on her duties following the war with Pakistan, which created the new state of Bangladesh.

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