Paul Gorman is…

Champs, chumps + charlatans: No time like the present for John Claridge’s Soho Faces

Apr 25th, 2017

“I started taking portraits of people at The French House in the 70s when I took a picture of Gaston Berlemont. Then, while taking Spike Milligan’s portrait, we got to talking about Soho. At the time, I was living in Frith St, so Ronnie Scott’s and The French were both very familiar to us and, even then, both of us voiced our sadness at changes we saw – lovely delicatessens, independent restaurants and specialists shops closing down, all of which had been there for years.

“In 2004, I decided to document the customers at The French in earnest. For me, it was the one place in Soho that still held its Bohemian character, where people truly chose to share time and conversation, and I became aware that many I had once chinked glasses with were no longer around.

“These portraits of the regulars are a cross-section of those who sat for me, but there is no rhyme or reason to my selection.”

John Claridge, 2017

There is no time like the present for a project documenting the champs, chumps and charlatans* who have imbued Soho with its gamey character over the decades; dreaded “gentrification” in the form of drastic changes being wrought by property developers is steadily defanging the central London area.

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Look sharp! In conversation with Mark Powell at Sartorial Style at the V&A, 2pm, Saturday, March 18

Mar 5th, 2017

Later this month I will be in conversation with British menswear legend Mark Powell at the V&A’s Sartorial Style day.

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Before We Were Men: With David Gwinnutt, John Maybury, Ian Massey + Jeffrey Hinton at the National Portrait Gallery on March 23

Feb 23rd, 2017

//John Maybury, Crowndale Road, c. 1981. Photo © David Gwinnutt//

//Leigh Bowery, Farrell House, Stepney Green, c. 1983. Photo © David Gwinnutt//

I am one of the guests of the photographer David Gwinnutt at an event being staged next month to coincide with the opening of his forthcoming exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Before We Were Men showcases Gwinnutt’s documentation – with hand-held camera and exclusive use of natural light –  of creative London in the 1980s. Among his subjects were the designer/performance artist Leigh Bowery, artists Cerith Wyn Evans, Duggie Fields, Gilbert & George and Grayson Perry and dancer/choreographer Michael Clark.

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My first concert: Count Basie and Frank Sinatra at the Royal Festival Hall, May 1970

Feb 2nd, 2017

I am fortunate enough to be able to state that the first live music concert I attended was the midnight double bill of Frank Sinatra and The Count Basie Orchestra at London’s Royal Festival Hall in May 1970.

//The headliners at the RFH, May 1970. Photo: Getty//

//At The RFH, May 1970. Photo: Getty//

I was 10 years old. My resourceful mother wangled tickets for the entire family, with one of my sisters selling programmes. That gained her access to the artists’ area; she gave me the backstage pass which I duly placed in the school project autobiography I wrote the following year.

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Sweet relief in design + anti-design: Josef Frank at FTM + Make It Real at DKUK

Jan 27th, 2017

Sweet relief from travails personal and political was provided last night by visits to openings of two contrasting yet similarly satisfying creative endeavours in our great capital.

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Eight Young Photographers: The poster

Dec 10th, 2016

//The image of the elongated photographers was created by Tim Stephens, one of the exhibition participants. Courtesy Mark Trompeteler. No reproduction without permission//

As a follow-up to my last post, here is the stunning poster for Eight Young Photographers, the third exhibition to be held at the Photographers Gallery (which opened at its original premises in central London’s Great Newport Street at the beginning of 1971).

The image has been provided by Mark Trompeteler, who was one of the participants along with talents such as the late David Parkinson then on the rise during the period when appreciation of photography as a form of artistic expression was beginning to take hold.

Says Trompeteler: “The silhouette of the photographers with the elongated legs was created by Tim Stephens, one of the exhibitors and one of my classmates back then at the London College of Printing (now the London College  of Communications).

“He tilted the back of a 5×4 camera in order to create the image. The Photographers Gallery organised the finished poster with the typography on top.”

Read about Mark’s work here.

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Reissued: The Look Of London – charting fashion x music in the greatest city in the world

Oct 21st, 2016

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I’m delighted to announce that my map The Look Of London – which teases out the intertwining of popular music and street style in our capital over five decades – has been reissued by groovy guide makers Herb Lester Associates.

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Long Live The Soho Dead: Ghosts of Le Macabre haunt Robert Rubbish’s exhibition Spiritus Soho Volume Zero

Apr 23rd, 2016

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Le Macabre

//Le Macabre, 23 Meard Street, London W1. Photo: Unknown//

“When I started working as the Saturday boy at Let It Rock (in 1973), Malcolm McLaren used to take me around these strange places which played a part in early rock & roll. One time we went to Le Macabre. I don’t know how he knew about it, but it was the real thing. The tables were coffin lids and the jukebox only had songs to do with death.”

Glen Matlock, interview transcript for The Look, 2000.

A chance encounter on eBay spurred artist Robert Rubbish into creating one of the key elements of his current exhibition Spiritus Soho Volume Zero.

Rubbish – who is one of many mourning the recent death of his friend and documentary subject, the poet Jock Scot – is known for deep associations with central London’s Soho, and has celebrated its sleazy past and uneasy present in his own work and with the other members of the art collective Le Gun.

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//Dilly Boys, Robert Rubbish, 2016//

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//The Sailor And The Mermaid, Robert Rubbish, 2016//

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Photography in a period of transition: London’s creative community captured down the decades in David Gwinnutt’s Portraits Trouvés

Apr 22nd, 2016
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//Siouxsie Sioux, 42 Arlington Square, N1, 1982. © David Gwinnutt//

Corinne Day

//”This was taken in hospital when she had the brain tumour but oddly seems to reflect the end of that heroin chic period.” The late photographer Corinne Day, Whitechapel Hospital, east London, 1996. © David Gwinnutt//

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//Timberlina, east London 2009. © David Gwinnutt//

Photographer David Gwinnutt’s new show Portraits Trouvés at north London estate agency Currell provides documentation of the drastic transformation of our city through portraiture of some of the leading lights in arts and culture from the 80s to the 10s.

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Laurie Cunningham: Back in the Sunday Times with a major biography and a blue plaque on the way

Mar 13th, 2016
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//Kavanagh’s piece on Cunningham in Style today//

I’m really pleased for writer/photography editor Dermot Kavanagh. His tireless championing of the late soulboy footballer Laurie Cunningham is paying off with a major piece in today’s Sunday Times’ Style magazine and news that there is to be a blue plaque marking the sportsman’s North London birthplace.

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