Tag Archives: Derek Ridgers

➤ Another eyeopener from always-there Ridgers

photography,exhibition, Derek Ridgers

Natassia Doubleoseven, Las Vegas 2012 – photography © Derek Ridgers


❚ PUNK AND CLUB PHOTOGRAPHER Derek Ridgers has a new show titled Afternoon At The Seven Palms And Other Stories which opened this week at The Society Club in Soho.

At his blog Ridgers writes: This is my first foray into the world of a very mild form of erotica. It’s really more like naked portraits. I’m not at all sure how it’ll go down but Babette and Carrie have been very encouraging. The above photograph is of the mysterious and exotic secret agent Natassia Doubleoseven. There are two photographs of her in the show (I’d better not tell you her real name in case she has me eliminated)… The Society Club is a small but trendy cafe/ bookstore/ gallery and it’s run by Babette and Carrie, who have both been very supportive. Some afternoons I go there and have a chat and a coffee and stare out of the window … / Continued online

➢ The Society Club is at 12 Ingestre Place, London W1F OJF

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➤ Proustian frissons aplenty as Derek Ridgers’ photographs revisit three decades

Derek Ridgers, photography, exhibition, Society Club,Morrissey

Derek Ridgers in Soho last night: his portrait of Morrissey a bridge between two eras. Photographed by Shapersofthe80s

❚ SOME PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE as extrovert as their famous sitters, but Derek Ridgers has captured the essence of British street style and achieved a uniquely influential status by tip-toeing through the margins of life, feather-footed as the questing vole. Anyone who has followed the Punk and New Romantic scenes recognises the Ridgers types — “transient beings moving across an urban landscape, experimenters, flamboyant souls who cared more than anything about how they looked and whose greatest fear was of being ordinary”, as writer Val Williams noted in the Ridgers photobook of 2004, When We Were Young: Club and Street Portraits. His straight-up photographic style pinned those clubbing butterflies like curios into the display case labelled Swinging 80s. They trigger the involuntary remembrance of the texture of an era as readily as cake did for Marcel Proust: each image has the potential to become the “vase filled with perfumes, sounds, places and climates”.

Throughout April and May we may relish the Ridgers back catalogue in a new exhibition titled Unseen at Soho’s Society Club. The selection documents celebrities and street stylists from 35 years of commissions by music mags and national press. Here is an engaging mix of concert shots and powerfully intimate portraits in which eye-contact is key: Nick Cave, David Lynch, J G Ballard, Boy George, Leigh Bowery, Tom Waits, The Cramps, Mick Jagger, plus the image of Keith Richards which is currently touring in the Sunday Times Magazine 50th anniversary show.

Another exceptionally striking portrait has the singer Morrissey eyeballing the Ridgers lens with an intense gaze that definitely says misunderstood but could just as easily be saying cussed. It was shot in London in 1985, year of The Smiths’ second album, Meat Is Murder, when Moz began raising the temperature with political views about the Thatcher government and the monarchy.

Derek Ridgers, photography, exhibition, Society Club, Keith Richards

Soho last night: Ridgers, Richards and a new snapper called Tracy Jenkins. Photographed by Shapersothe80s

Ridgers said: “He’s a bit of a strain to photograph in the sense that there is so little of his personality coming back at you. Or at least there wasn’t in those days. Maybe he was very shy but he seemed taciturn in the extreme. The two times we met, he gave the impression of not wanting to say boo to a goose. He honestly hardly said a word to me. Nothing at all like the extremely opinionated personality that comes across in interviews these days.”

The two characteristic Morrisseys of then and now — the one taciturn, the other curmudgeonly — bestride three decades which completely reinvented British notions of youth culture, music, sexuality and success, yet at last night’s preview it was salutory to be pulled up by a 26-year-old illustrator among the guests who had to ask: Who was Morrissey?

All the more reason to buy ourselves a cool black-and-white print as a Proustian trigger, either directly from the Ridgers Archive or from an earlier catalogue viewable at the Society Club. Titled Previously Unpublished, this takes us from an iconic 1982 lineup of the ever-evolving band The Fall, through Culture Club, John Galliano, Roddy Frame, Tim Roth, into the 90s of the Charlatans, Ray Winstone, Lee Scratch Perry and a pensive Kylie Minogue to a raunchy Boo Delicious and more in the new century.

Ridgers has published three books of photographs, has exhibited frequently, and was a judge in How We Are Now, an online photography project launched by Tate Britain in 2007.

➢ Derek Ridgers Unseen runs until May 31 at the Society Club, 12 Ingestre Place, London W1F 0JF

➢ Previously Unpublished can be bought in various formats from Blurb, “a creative publishing service”

➢ 50 Years of The Sunday Times Magazine is viewable in Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham until June

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➤ Smile please, Derek — you’re one of the Sunday Times Mag’s 60 ace snappers in its birthday show

Keith Richards,Sunday Times Magazine ,Derek Ridgers, photography, exhibitions,Saatchi Gallery,Paintworks, Cube, Waterhall

Snapper and Stone: Derek Ridgers seen at last night’s Sunday Times party at the Saatchi Gallery beside his photo of Keith Richards, published by the Magazine in 1986. (Nokia mobile snap by yours truly)

◼ WHAT ARE THE ODDS on any photographer having an iconic photograph included in the exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Sunday Times Magazine, the UK’s first newspaper colour supplement? Launched in the dull days of 1962 when papers appeared only in black-and-white, as did TV, the mag proclaimed itself the paper’s Colour Section to point up its USP. Since then it must have published at least 250,000 pages, so the odds of being shown in the powerful new exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery are stacked against most of its contributing photographers. Only 60 were chosen for the show.

This elegantly mounted selection of 100 historic pix, plus various supporting mementoes, packs a surprising punch. The vitality of the huge images is an object lesson in what makes photographic magic.

Sunday Times Magazine , photography, exhibitions, Saatchi Gallery

Grit and glamour on ST Magazine covers: Don McCullin’s exhausted mother and weeping child in Bangladesh, 1972 … Marilyn Monroe on a 1973 cover, photographed in a famous series of naked pictures by Bert Stern, a month before her death in August 1962

Right from the off, the Mag established its benchmark: “photographer first”. In Feb 1962 the 24-year-old David Bailey’s launch issue cover shots at Chelsea Reach showed the model Jean Shrimpton wearing a Mary Quant outfit and announced the dawn of Swinging London. Inside pages featured pop artist Peter Blake five years before he designed the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album sleeve, and a short story titled The Living Daylights by 007 author Ian Fleming.

In the words of Michael Rand, the Mag’s art director for 30 years, its credo was “grit plus glamour — fashion juxtaposed with war photography and pop art”. This meant serious investment in photo-reportage from the world’s troublespots. He went on to champion the work of Eve Arnold, Snowdon, Terry O’Neill, Brian Duffy, Richard Avedon, Eugene Richards, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark. Rand says he felt a great responsibility to project the honesty of their pictures. Risking his life in the warzones of the late 20th century, Don McCullin survived sniper bullets to return with some of the century’s most haunting pictures, and to write movingly of the impact on his own soul from having witnessed at first hand the pain and the pity of shell-shocked soldiers and starving children in Biafra, Vietnam and Northern Ireland. In 1989, Stuart Franklin, onetime president of the Magnum agency, leant out of a hotel window to give the world the unforgettable image of a young man single-handedly halting a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square.

First group pic of key Blitz Kids, April 1980: George O’Dowd, Vivienne Lynn, Chris Sullivan, Kim Bowen, Pinkietessa and Steve Strange immmortalised by Derek Ridgers for The Sunday Times Magazine

All the more reason to be extra-impressed at last night’s party launching the exhibition to meet my old ally on London’s clubbing scene in the 80s, Derek Ridgers. You know his pictures of everyone within a mile of Steve Strange, king of the posers, because they’re all over this website, and as half a dozen key Blitz Kids well remember, he snapped their first published group shot at the Blitz for the ST Magazine in April 1980. Last night Derek had been chatting on and off for at least half an hour while we sidestepped the namedroppy media luvvies and posey models to mingle with the veterans Mike Rand and Beatle biographer Hunter Davies, ST picture editor Ray Wells and snapper Uli Weber (standing in front of his demonic pic of Boy George sprouting a pair of satanic horns, while his pic of Kylie Minogue in the bath is on the poster for this show).

Eventually Derek, who is modest to a fault, asked if I was carrying a camera and I had to say no, thinking it a bit uncool at a swanky champagne bash for 700 media A-listers (which was obviously his view too since his own holster was empty). We did then discover that we were both toting the same unsmart workhorse Nokia 6300 mobile with 2Mp cams onboard. OK, they’ll do, so would I mind taking a pic of him beside his own exhibit at the end of the gallery? Excuse me, Derek? Nice old mild-mannered Derek with his long hair tied in a tail, and knapsack over his shoulder? Renowned for his book full of skinhead and punk portraits, not to mention the dodgy habitués of sexclubs like Skin Two, of David Claridge vintage? Derek’s IN this show? Yes he is. Even with the odds stacked at 250,000 to one against, it’s true. “I was amazed when they sent me an email asking if they could show this photograph,” he said. “So I said, yes, I didn’t mind.” How cool is that?

What we see is a charismatic mugshot of wrecked old Scary Stone, Keith Richards, snapped back in late 1985 when the face of the “10th greatest guitarist of all time” was engraved with a tiny fraction of the million lines it boasts now. He was settling into his  marriage to the model Patti Hansen, and Derek persuaded the rock star to pose for him after a chance encounter at the Savoy hotel in London. He says: “There was no KR entourage whatsoever. He couldn’t possibly have been any more helpful. I guess that’s what makes him the guy he is.”

Full marks for initiative, Derek. In 2012 The Sunday Times remains the UK’s best-selling quality newspaper. In the season of Oscars and artsy prizegivings, to be included among the 60 top photographers in the life of its mighty Magazine is pretty well the best gong a lensman can win.

Grit and glamour at the Saatchi Gallery: Tim Hetherington’s photographs observe American soldiers asleep in 2009 in Afghanistan. He said they are about “the intimacy of war. We’re not talking about friendship. We’re talking about brotherhood.” He was killed in Libya in 2011 … Minutes before a tense Amy Winehouse went onstage at a Mandela tribute concert in 2008, Terry O’Neill persuaded the singer to pose for a pic dedicated to the great man. O’Neill said: “She steeled herself for it.” All published in the ST Magazine. Gallery views by Shapersofthe80s

Beijing 1989: Stuart Franklin photographed pro-democracy student protesters in Tiananmen Square which made a cover shot for the ST Mag. Two days after the massacre of hundreds of civilians, he caught “Tank Man” defying Chinese T-59 tanks armed only with his shopping bags

Glamour and grit: Faye Dunaway in Beverly Hills at 6am the day after winning her 1977 Oscar for Network, photographed by her future husband Terry O’Neill… Right, in 1976 Don McCullin catches six Christian Phalangist militia playing music over a girl’s corpse after they went into East Beirut to “clean up the rats”. One had a Kalashnikov and another a lute stolen from the home of the people they’d just killed. McCullin says: “It haunts me to this day.”

Grit or glamour, the eyes have it: Nigel Parry nails the steely ambition of Tony Blair in 1994, weeks before becoming the Labour Party leader and going on to win three general elections … Uli Weber nails the demons of pop singer Boy George on tour in 1993, after emerging from one of his early descents into drug-fuelled despair

➢ Update: The Sunday Times Magazine 50th Anniversary Exhibition runs at the Saatchi Gallery, London, was scheduled to run until Feb 19, excluding Feb 11–14, now extended to March 18. Entry is free. The Magazine published a dedicated anniversary issue Sunday, Feb 5.

➢ Update: The free exhibition 50 Years of The Magazine goes on tour — Paintworks, Bristol Mar 24–April 3, Cube, Manchester April 11–23, Waterhall, Birmingham May 22-June 2

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➤ Quietly, quietly, lensman Ridgers talks about capturing life in the margins

Derek Ridgers, Ronnie Biggs, great train robbery,Rio de Janeiro,photography

Derek Ridgers meets the fugitive Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in Rio, about 1985: “I played pool with Ronnie a few times and he was a lot better at it than I was. I suppose he had plenty of time to practise.” (Picture courtesy of Derek)

❚ WITH 35 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, Derek Ridgers is one of the UK’s leading documentary photographers, notably of youth culture, its rock stars and its street tribes. “Derek Ridgers’ compulsion to photograph London clubs over two decades was an extraordinary one,” curator Val Williams wrote in his 2004 book, When We Were Young: Club and Street Portraits 1978–1987. Here were “transient beings moving across an urban landscape, flamboyant souls who cared more than anything about how they looked and whose greatest fear was of being ordinary. But it was the ordinariness that Derek Ridgers glimpsed in these costumed characters that makes his photographs so powerful.

Witchity club, London, 1979

An era of conspicuous sexuality: clubber at Witchity, a David Claridge dive in 1979, photographed by Derek Ridgers

“Ridgers’ photographs are an undeliberate chapter in a decade of English social and cultural history which changed the way we thought about music, fashion and consumption. It was the decade of the handmade and the customised, of Oxfam shopping, conspicuous sexuality, of excess, wide success and dismal failure.” Well, that’s a point of view.

His earliest exhibitions in the 70s and 80s featured punk portraits and skinheads, and many seminal images of London’s clubland New Romantics. He has mainly worked for UK magazines and newspapers such as NME, The Face, The Independent, The Sunday Telegraph, Time Out and Loaded. He now runs the Derek Ridgers Archive where limited edition prints are for sale, and he blogs occasionally though thoughtfully at Ponytail Pontifications. Derek has always been the “quiet observer”. He collaborated only once with Shapersofthe80s and his fine shots can be seen on our inside page about the 1983 Face cover story, The making of UK club culture. He also brilliantly articulated what remains today the definitive description of Billy’s, the font of all 80s clubbing. You’ll read it in the feature.

Oomska, a new UK-based online arts and pop culture magazine, today asked Derek to share his views about photography. Here are some highlights:

Other than a camera, my favourite piece of equipment, if one could characterise it as such, is the sun.

❏ The digital age has probably added several years to my life expectancy — when I think about all the wasted time and expense of having clip tests made prior to getting the bulk of my colour film processed, I think I must have been mad.

❏ I love Garry Winogrand but some of his photographs (for instance the ones taken in the Ivar Theatre) suggest that he wasn’t necessarily always thinking about the art.

❏ It’s becoming harder and harder these days to earn a living as a professional photographer … I don’t particularly care.

❏ The most popular camera used on Flickr is now the iPhone 4. The rise of the hybrid consumer appliance will probably continue.

❏ For me it’s whatever works… Photoshop has brought all those darkroom techniques that took years to learn within the reach of everyone.

❏ A static image can still have more power than a moving one because you can live with it and study it and let its whole being seep into you and fix itself into your brain.

➢ Read the full Ridgers interview at Oomska

Derek Ridgers, photographer,Beat Route, clubbing

The snapper snapped: Derek Ridgers at last December’s party at the Beat Route reincarnation to launch somebody else’s photobook We Can Be Heroes. Snapped by Sandro Martini

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