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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 13:00 UK
Johnny Cash and Maverick Festival portraits in Ipswich
Johnny Cash by Nick Sinclair
Nick Sinclair captured Johnny Cash at a key moment in his career

Intimate portraits of Johnny Cash and the stars of Suffolk's Maverick Festival are on show in Ipswich courtesy of Nick Sinclair.

The Aldeburgh-based photographer's Country & Eastern exhibition is at University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich.

"[Mojo Magazine] called me up and said 'are you free tomorrow? Would you like to photograph Johnny Cash'?" said Nick.

"I said 'that would be pretty good'. They said 'ok, we've booked you on a flight to Wichita, off you go'."

The handful of photos of Cash and his wife June Carter Cash will help raise the profile of the exhibition, but the main purpose seems to be to showcase Nick's talents whilst highlighting the Maverick Festival.

The Americana and alt country festival returns for a third spell at Easton Farm Park midway through the exhibition's run, on 2-4 July.

"I'm friends with a number of other people who were getting involved at the very start, and I started to hear the Maverick Festival was facing criticism even before it began," said Nick, who has the title of photographer-in-residence at Maverick.

Nick Sinclair
Nick Sinclair's exhibition runs until 18 July at UCS

"I thought that was such a terrible shame because I thought it was a great project - live music, a family event - so I got involved to support and make a record that it was a thing that people could enjoy rather than worry about."

Nick's work from Maverick takes in the live performances but the exhibition focuses on portraits of the acts who come to England to perform.

"There are lots of different characters," said Nick. "The performers are very diverse - there's people like Rachel Harrington who tell stories in her music - and Otis Gibbs, who's like a stand-up comedian his songs are so funny. You can't go wrong with a long beard.

"Easton Farm Park is like a film set for a country music festival, it's absolutely perfect.

"It's got lots of character, beautiful old buildings and it's great to sit the artists in those different contexts."

Cash in transition

Returning to the photos of the Cash family, Nick has fond memories of the impromptu 10,000 mile round trip to the USA.

"The article was promoting the fact that he was starting to work with Rick Rubin. It was the reinvention of Johnny Cash as a different kind of star at the end of his life, the beginning of the American Recordings."

Elizabeth Cook by Nick Sinclair
Nashville's Elizabeth Cook features in the exhibition

Nick remembers witnessing signs of Cash making the transition between the two stages of his career on stage.

"He was still doing the old fashioned Johnny Cash, which he was very comfortable with and it was great to watch, Boy Named Sue and all that kind of stuff.

"He was then slipping in a couple of the American Recording tracks and you could tell that he was really casting around the audience, to see if they would accept it.

"They were very loyal to his old image, but it was a fantastic reinvention."

Nick, whose previously exhibited work at the National Portrait Gallery, spent time with Cash at his hotel near Wichita and before he went on stage.

"One of the things about Johnny Cash towards the end of his life, the last 10 years or so, was that he had a recurrent problem with his teeth.

"He'd had a history of drug addiction, he couldn't take pain killers, he was terrified of becoming addicted again, and he was a very curiously difficult person to deal with.

"He was very uncomfortable and in a great deal of pain I think.

"You met this guy and he was quite shambling and a little bit miserable, although he did warm up, but when he went on stage it was like a light switched on. He was a completely different person.

"I think he just saved it all up for when he was performing."

Nick Sinclair, Country & Eastern is at the Waterfront Building, University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich from 21 June-18 July 2010.

Maverick Festival is at Easton Farm Park, 2-4 July.




SEE ALSO
Review: Maverick Festival 2010
06 Jul 10 |  Arts & Culture
Dolby for Maverick Festival 2010
27 May 10 |  Arts & Culture
Johnny Cash's pulled Ipswich show
20 May 10 |  Arts & Culture

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