Rosamond Norbury is a Vancouver photographer with a background in printmaking. Despite being a direct descendant of Lady Godiva and being born in India, Rosamond Norbury’s roots are planted firmly in British Columbia. If you’re born in the Himalayas and schooled in Paris, France, how could you not grow up to be a photographer of cowboys?
Her acclaimed first book "Behind the Chutes: The mystique of the Rodeo Cowboy" profiles the men who live up to the legends of the Wild West. It was nominated for the ALA/ YALSA best books for young adults in 1994. Her work has appeared in Canadian Art and Saturday Night. Using two separate printing plates to give a duotone effect takes the black and white print far beyond the photographic process to produce a richness not found in traditional black & white imagery.
“Rodeo is friends and family, it’s a sport, a way of life and a business. To the outsider it’s hard to comprehend, but talk to any cowboy: it’s the rodeo that gets in your blood… a craving that can only be satisfied by going on to the next rodeo.
Cowboys have an almost gypsy-like existence: they are part of an arcane family that travels from rodeo to rodeo and intermarry within their culture: one is born into rodeo.
When I turn up at a rodeo I hang around behind the bucking chutes where the cowboys are getting prepared: putting on their chaps, boots and gloves and rosining up their ropes. I feel as though I have stepped into a living piece of history. The cowboys ignore me as they psyche themselves up in preparation for their events.
Rodeo is man’s game and for me the appeal has always been the intrinsic eroticism of the classic cowboy. Summer is the season of the rodeo – hot, hazy, steamy and sexy: for me it’s a dream-like experience.
I return to the rodeo from time to time and it is reassuring to me that it is still the same: unchanged in this ever-changing world, save for a couple of things: the trucks hauling the horses are bigger and now everyone carries a cell phone.
Rodeo cowboys are part of the narrative of the west. Their iconic imagery is timeless in these days of impermanent picture taking. "