Internationally renowned photojournalist Tor Eigeland has spent the past 50 years travelling the globe, recording momentous moments of 20th century history, and preserving snapshots in time for cultures now long lost.
Hanging around the Oslo docks in the 1940’s, young Tor Eigeland yearned for the adventures awaiting the ships which left every day for exotic lands and unknown cultures. Consoling himself for a while with books of travel and discovery, at the age of sixteen he managed to get himself posted on a merchant ship bound for global travels. Stopping at 22 ports, his eyes took in the sights of Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Shanghai. He returned eight months later with a renewed determination to see more of an exciting and ever-changing world.
Attending University in Canada and then Mexico City at the start of the 50s, Tor funded his education with a variety of colourful side jobs, including babysitting, chauffeuring for a Canadian general, ski-instructing, and a spell in a ‘wild west’ Canadian gold mine. His experiences started to formulate as stories, and he decided to write about them. To his delight, he was published by a big Norwegian newspaper under the guise of ‘A Norwegian abroad’. Wanting to illustrate his words with the sights he had seen, he purchased his first camera and his lifelong love for photographing stories was initiated. Specialising in photojournalism in the University of Miami, Tor learnt under the guidance of Wilson Hicks, renowned editor of Life magazine – the magazine of the moment.
His career as a photojournalist allowed him to travel to the corners of the globe, experiencing the cultures and sights he dreamt of as a child. Commenting on his career, Tor says, ‘Apart from Canada, Mexico and Miami, then New York, Trinidad and Tobago, I also lived in Beirut. This was a great base for local and international action including a fair share of conflict during my time there in the 1960’s […] During all this time I was often travelling with some of my longest assignments in my earlier years as a contributor to National Geographic’, His projects have been varied and important in preserving many aspects of 20th century history. He has completed projects for National Geographic, The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Independent on Sunday and Aramco World amongst others. His assignments include travelling the entirety of the Silk Road in 1987, from Istanbul to Hong Kong, where he became one of the first to cross the border between the Soviet Union and China after the lifting of the Iron Curtain. In the manner of Wilfred Thesiger he spent time in Iraq with the Marsh Arabs in Iraq in the sixties, recording a way of life which has since been wiped out by Saddam Hussein. He was witness to Fidel Castro on the eve of the Cuban Revolution, unknowingly staying in the very hotel where Castro had commandeered the entire top floor for his headquarters, lived with the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico where he was cured by a witchdoctor, the nomadic Bedouins in Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter and experienced the overwhelming power of nature when he lived in the virgin rainforest in Borneo for a Royal Geographical Society project.
Recently settling in England, this will be his first retrospective show and will include his most important, and some of his favourite, images. There will be a Private View of the show on Thursday 16th February between 5.30 and 7.30pm, Tor will be in attendance to answer questions and discuss his photographs, and drinks will be served. Entry to the show is free, all are welcome and the show will run from February 17th to March 22nd.