Famed photographer David Bailey was paramount in capturing the spirit of London’s 'Swinging 60’s ' turning the lens on stars of the ‘60s across all creative mediums: art, music and fashion.
Born in East London, he turned his hand to photography via a love of natural history and art. School wasn’t easy for Bailey, who was struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia. This led him to pursue a more creative forte; he left school on his fifteenth birthday and became a copy boy at the Yorkshire Post. Forced to consider other creative outlets, he bought a Rolleiflex camera and the rest as they say, is history.
Bailey became second assistant to photographer David Ollins then photographic assistant at the John French studio. The turning point of his career came when Bailey was contracted as a fashion photographer for British Vogue. Young, talented and handsome, Bailey captured the culture of fashion and celebrity chic that was swinging through London. He socialised with actors, musicians and royalty, and found himself elevated to celebrity status.
Bailey continued to climb the career ladder, within months he had gone from freelance projects to shooting the acclaimed magazine’s covers. At the height of his time at Vogue, he shot 800 pages of editorial in one year. American Vogue's creative director Grace Coddington, then a model herself, said "It was the Sixties, it was a raving time, and Bailey was unbelievably good-looking. He was everything that you wanted him to be – like the Beatles but accessible – and when he went on the market everyone went in. We were all killing ourselves to be his model, although he hooked up with Jean Shrimpton pretty quickly."
The essence of the times and London’s star scene was aptly reflected in Bailey’s Box of Pin-Ups; one of two large bodies of work displayed at the Gallery. The box of poster-prints include The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol and notorious East End gangsters, the Kray twins.
Of his model muse Jean Shrimpton, Bailey said, “She was magic and the camera loved her too. In a way she was the cheapest model in the world – you only needed to shoot half a roll of film and then you had it.”