Has the Kings Road always been a cool place to hang out? When I was at school this street was the place to be seen and we're being persuaded it still is.
Proud Chelsea is currently exhibiting a small collection of photographs illustrating why the area is London’s hottest borough, ‘Sex, Drugstores and Rock & Roll’. This show parades pictures from the early 60s through the 70s and 80s, documenting the evolution of the Kings Road over these radical decades.
I went along to the private view last week to get a glimpse for myself. The gallery was absolutely packed, so it was quite tricky to see the images without being shoved out the way by another punter. I struggled through the crowd, notebook in one hand and a nice cold glass of bubbly in the other.
There is always a permanent collection of works downstairs, but I felt like I recognised some of those displayed upstairs too. It seems there were still several Beatles photos up from the last show; images that could craftily be classified within both exhibition themes. ‘Sex, Drugstores and Rock & Roll’ showcases the work of influential photographers including Philip Townsend, Terry O’Neill, Colin Jones, Harold Chapman and Janette Beckman. Above is shown the brilliant photo by Beckman of the Kings Road boys, sharp and cheeky with a real sense of the culture of the day.
The photos create a powerful group. They depict an amazing hubbub of creative activity; actresses, models, musicians, artists - each with a unique flair and style that seems so far from today’s Sloane ranger uniformed Kings Road. I particularly enjoyed seeing the natural images, those taken without an agenda... they have a real energy and joyful spontaneity about them. Also seeing the shop fronts and signs from back in the day - Vivienne Westwood’s famous ‘SEX’ shop in the 70s and other adorable little stores with signs like “mini skirts cleaned 2D per inch,” summing up the character of the 60s completely.
Exhibition runs until 8 March 2011, visit website here.