Amber. A Tribute.

Posted on 29/10/2017 By

Amber: Looking out from Skomer.


Amber: Picture of happiness.

Picture of happiness.

Bobby: “How sad it is that two lovely, stylish, talented ladies died before their time. Amber at just 45. She had become a successful photographer in that cut throat freelance world. Fashion especially. Her distinctive style stood out when you read the colour supplements and other magazines that her mother saved with such pride. Her world where you are only as good as your last job. Her tenacity for her career left less time for relationships and I wish I could have got to know her better. Diddley was so proud of her. They shared a love of Leonard Cohen and it was Amber who designed the back page of Diddley’s funeral programme with those immortal words –

There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.

I make no apologies for posting this song again. This was recorded at the O2. Di went twice. Once with me. Once with Amber. The picture is that very evening.

Amber: A beautiful mother and daughter.

A beautiful mother and daughter.

But I would like to share something with you that I am immensely proud of. Both ladies and Di’s younger daughter, Jessie, all did something way beyond their comfort zone. Something they could never have imagined if they hadn’t met me. I took them as voluntary wardens to Skomer Island. For a week initially, but they all went back in subsequent years. At a time before the £3 million refurbishment, when you boiled the water. There was no electricity. The only toilets on the island were in a tiny building across the yard in all weathers. Rusty bunk beds. The only washing facilities a sink. Draining into a tin can you emptied in the bushes. And an overwhelming sense of isolation then. Poor mobile signals. But a true adventure. They lived and fell in love for a number of weeks with the puffins and all the other birds and made friends with true island adventurers. And were all enriched by the experience. So much so that when the rebuild loomed Jane, the warden’s partner, was responsible for a beautiful book in which both Amber and I are featured. And Jessie immortalised.

The following pictures give you a taste of what those island days were like.

Amber came late one year and had the Dale Princess to herself.

Arriving late one year. She had the Dale Princess to herself.

Amber: With Diddley, “bashing bracken” on Skomer Island.

With Diddley, “bashing bracken” on Skomer Island.

Amber: At the trig point. Highest part of the island, with a 360 degree view of the sea.

At the trig point. Highest part of the island, with a 360 degree view of the sea.

Amber: The cover of Jane Matthew's book.

The cover of Jane Matthew’s book.

... and the page on which Amber is featured.

… and the page on which Amber is featured.

Amber: Double page spread of one of her photographs.

Double page spread of one of her photographs.

Amber: Another photograph featured in the book.

Another photograph featured in the book. Tankers in the Storm.

Amber: Jessie’s window. Showing the artistic nature of the younger sister.

Jessie’s window. Showing the artistic nature of the younger sister.

The publishers didn’t want to include this picture as in their eyes it didn’t fit in with the rest of the book that is all scenery and wildlife. Jane was adamant that this was just as important as the others. (The book is still in print. Available on Amazon etc).

Two sisters. Jessie and Amber.

Two sisters. Jessie and Amber.

And finally, one of my favourite pictures of all time. Taken by Brian Hewitt. An old Skomer friend of the family. A grey day. a dark forbidding sea. Cliffs. A distant island. A bright red jacket. Nothing
special you might think. But this is Amber and her stepdad on Skomer Island looking at Kittiwakes nesting on the cliff. Between the two islands the Manx Shearwaters gathering in their thousands. And across the sea Skokholm. “Dream Island”, where we had never been. But I have. Many times since. Look at the lichens on the rocks. Amber was fascinated with the photographic opportunities presented by a maritime environment. I’m proud I gave her the opportunity.

Amber: Looking out from Skomer.

Looking out from Skomer.

So cheerio for now. Mother and daughter. It was a privilege to have known you. RIP.”


AmberDream Island    

  1. Avatar Baby Ball says:

    A fitting farewell, Dad. Amber was truly quirky, and marvellous for it. Sad news. Ax

  2. Avatar katherine says:

    Beautiful photographs, beautiful island, beautifully written. Thank you

  3. Avatar Marla Bishop says:

    Lovely tribute Bob
    May they both rest in peace

  4. Avatar Phil Barnett says:

    A beautiful tribute. Amber was clearly a very gifted photographer and her memory will live on through her legacy in pictures.

  5. Avatar Bertie says:

    Thanks Phil. I appreciate your comments. Writing tributes is not that easy. So I stuck to what I experienced with Amber . Purely personal

  6. Avatar Peter Sandwell says:

    Bob, so sorry to hear about Amber; Anna’s and my sympathies to you and the family.
    I remember when Amber got her first fashion photos published in the Guardian back in the 90s. Di was so excited , she wanted to see my paper, I never saw it again.

  7. Avatar Bertie says:

    Thanks Peter. Di was excited and disappointed in equal measure. She wished she could have had a closer relationship. But the work always came first. That’ how some people succeed. Single minded focus.

  8. Avatar Marie Ball says:

    What a lovely tribute to a gifted lady. Very sad her contribution to art has been cut short. Well done, that must have been very hard to write. RIP Amber.

  9. Avatar Kristian and Marilyn Paxton says:

    Thanks for sending us the link to this Bob.. Very beautiful tribute and photos. So nice you all got to spend such a wonderful time together in a truly magical place. I know those will be cherished memories.

  10. […] Christmas Wreath made by Bobby at the National Trust. A picture of a young Diddley, given to her by Amber. RIP. The red book, in which Bobby found “Things I remember”. Betty Boop, with Diddley’s […]

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