Skip to main content

Bailey's Stardust / Moonglow

Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh until October 18th
Four stars

When David Bailey became a fashion photographer for Vogue magazine just as 1960s London began to swing, he became as much of a face of the era as his subjects, despite being on the other side of the camera. It is the pin-ups of Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, Marianne Faithfull, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and a very sexy Yoko Ono striking assorted poses that initially catch the eye, however, in this major touring retrospective which arrives in town like a retro-chic hot date rubbing shoulders with the great and the good at Edinburgh Art Festival.

Moving with the times, there is pop iconography down the ages, from Jack Nicholson to John Lydon to Kate Moss to Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn, bad boys and girls all. An entire section is devoted to the Rolling Stones, while, old softy that Bailey undoubtedly is, a whole room is set aside for portraits of his fourth wife, Catherine Bailey, who he met on a 1980s shoot.

Yet, as with any 1960s chart-topper, there is a more complicated flipside. It was Bailey's harrowing images of poverty in Sudan, after all, that gave Live Aid a visual identity arguably worth more than the music that sound-tracked Bob Geldof's charity circus. Images of vintage boozers in London's East End and latter-day hard-men, meanwhile, are as anthropologically evocative as his portraits of eastern holy men.

It is the mixed media assortment of this compendium's second show, Moonglow, however, that reveals just how far Bailey's art has come through a series of paintings, screen-prints, sculptures and box-like constructions. The glamour is still there in distressed collages of the Kray Twins and others, but, like Bailey, the more weathered they appear, the more depth they acquire beyond the surface of this major archive.

The List, July 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …