[The Guardian] The big picture: Bertien van Manenís otherworldly arrivals hall

The big picture: Bertien van Manenís otherworldly arrivals hall

After years working for fashion magazines, the Dutch photographer, who died last month, set off on an adventure to Budapest in 1975, where she found the curious Narnia she had dreamed of

There is a fairytale quality to Bertien van Manenís 1975 photograph of the arrivals hall at Budapest Keleti train station. Among the questions it demands is: who are the two women in shawls and where might they be going? (And then there is the slight double take required to be sure that the pointing womanís arm is not somehow on both sides of the right-hand shawl-wearerís head.)

The otherworldly atmosphere of the photograph was appropriate to Van Manenís quest. Her journey to Budapest marked a sliding doors moment in her career. Up until then, the photographer, who died last month aged 89, had a successful career in Amsterdam working for fashion magazines. But then she started looking hard at the pictures in Robert Frankís landmark odyssey, The Americans. She felt the need to be on the road, in curious places. She was 40, her children were growing up, so she took a trip to Budapest, then almost as inaccessible as Narnia.

I Will Be Wolf by Bertien van Manen is published by Mack (£25)

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