RIP David Redfern, Legendary British Music Photographer

My impromptu portrait of David Redfern

My impromptu portrait of David Redfern

The world says goodbye to one of it’s most talented music photographers after the recent passing of David Redfern, aged 78. It was deeply saddening to hear this news, knowing of David’s battle with cancer over the past two years. We met when David had given a talk about his life’s work, five decades of music photography including the British and American Jazz, Blues, Rock and Pop scenes. His speciality was photographing festivals such as Newport Jazz Festival, between Boston and New York, and documenting legendary music venues such as Ronnie Scotts in Soho, London where he photographed Ella Fitzgerald and many more greats.

In 1995 three of his photos-Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, and Thelonius Monk-were chosen for U.S. postage stamps. His breadth of work went from being Frank Sinatra’s tour photographer to working with current coolest of the cool bands such as Arcade Fire. A number of decades ago David set up his own photography agency Redfern and then sold it to Getty Images in 2008, reserving rights to his favourite 1000 images for sale as prints. The talk was part of the Dobells Jazz Record Shop exhibition at CHELSEA Space, London, in May 2013.

The exhibition of an archive of items from the legendary record shop contained a number of David’s images of the Jazz scene and it’s musicians from the 60’s. After the talk we went to The Morpeth Arms pub and had a great chat with David about his life’s adventures as an international music photographer. He was joined by his charming and loving wife Susy Reed fashion entrepreneur who creates fabulous textile prints with David through his images.

David Redfern at CHELSEA Space May 2013

David Redfern at CHELSEA Space May 2013

These three image were made whilst we walked the short distance of one short street from CHELSEA Space to the pub. Later on David had told me that he hadn’t had his portrait made by many people. I was transfixed by David’s spirit just as he was by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone or Johnny Cash when he photographed them. Shortly afterwards I got in touch to offer David and Susy some prints as a gift in return for the wonderful and inspirational evening we’d shared. We arranged to meet for lunch in west London near David’s home but unfortunately David wasn’t well enough on the day. I knew he was going through some very tough chemotherapy but was being ever so strong in fighting it always staying philosophical and positive.

David Redfern with Donald Smith, Director of CHELSEA Space & Chair of Chelsea Arts Club Trust

David Redfern with Donald Smith, Director of CHELSEA Space & Chair of Chelsea Arts Club Trust

We crossed paths again whilst David was showing his work at the Royal Festival Hall in London and I was struck by his determination for business as usual. Sunday lunch and the gift of my humble snaps was mentioned again but when I called to arrange it David had moved to his second home in France to take advantage of a better healthcare system there. It was there a few months after, in the gentle loving care of his wife Suzy that David lost his fight with cancer, but he lived his life to full right to the end. It’s clear from David’s summer newsletter on his website that he was still enthralled and electrified by his beloved music scene and the gift he had bestowed upon him as a photographer.

He spent four days at the Vienne Jazz festival, in the front of stage pit, shooting the great Buddy Guy and many more. Then two days in Juan les Pins, with Imelda May, Joss Stone to name but a few. David was planning travel and exhibitions right to the end. To quote him “Keep the faith and live every day to the full,  you just never know…….”

This week sees David honoured in many of the top international media including a Rolling Stone gallery where you can see his greatest photos of 1960s rock royalty, The Guardian gallery and the Under the Radar Mag feature. You can also have a look at David Redfern’s website which includes Suzy Reed’s fashion brand. You can also purchase David Redfern’s book.

CHELSEA Space at Chelsea College of Arts, Millbank, London is run by the very talented artist, curator and more, Donald Smith, also Chair of Chelsea Arts Club Trust. Thanks to Donald for organising this and many other great shows which bring such splendid culture together for celebration. My memories of the high spirits shared that evening will last forever.

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London Film Festival, Frieze & a Host of Gloriously Talented Friends

Ashley by Rodolfo Villaplana

Ashley by Rodolfo Villaplana

As this year’s Frieze London and London Film Festival close this weekend I am keen to point out the work of a few of my very talented friends. Sometimes I just have to pinch myself when I think of how unbelievable it is to live in London surrounded by this cultural smorgasbord. Artists, writers and much much more. Here are two I’d like to introduce briefly to you.

Rodolfo Villaplana, originally from Venezeula is an exceptional talent in figurative painting.  After showing recently in the Venice Biennale, Rodolfo had his second solo show here in London at 20th Century Theatre in West London this weekend during Frieze. Part of the show, this beautiful painting above is of a dear mutual friend and fellow artist, Ashley from Laguna Beach near Los Angeles, California. See more of his scintillating work on Rodolfo Villaplana’s Facebook page. He is definitely one to watch!

Gone Girl with Ben Affleck & Rosamund Pike

Gone Girl with Ben Affleck & Rosamund Pike

Another wonderfully talented friend who likes to stay behind the scenes is the the wonderful writer Jonathan Campbell, the man behind Soundbite Culture. Jonathan has spent the last number of weeks devouring and dissecting back to back films at the London Film Festival. He and his merry band of film critics produce a regular reflection upon the current cinematic offer,  from summer blockbusters such as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy starring Bradley Cooper and Benicio del Toro, to films of the moment David Fincher’s Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike or The Judge with Billy Bob Thornton & Robert Downey Jr. Bookmark Soundbite Culture to keep in touch with the best films.

The Judge with Robert Downey Jr & Billy Bob Thornton

The Judge with Robert Downey Jr & Billy Bob Thornton

Living in London is an experience I can highly recommend to anyone who gets the opportunity. It’s a tough city at times but boy does it make up for it with endless opportunities for inspiration through festivals, art events and constantly being surrounded by a never ending supply of energetic talent! Another week awaits and who knows what excitement it will entail!

Gabby

Dr Gabrielle Lynch @ Dalston Street Feast, Hackney

Dr Gabrielle Lynch @ Dalston Street Feast, Hackney

Gabby and I were flatmates for a few years when we both lived in Leeds some time ago. She worked as an academic for Leeds University whilst I worked for Leeds Metropolitan University close by. Those days we only had to walk across Hyde Park or Woodhouse Moor as it’s also called in Leeds, for 20 minutes to get to our respective offices.

Since then our lives have taken us across the world, with my documentary photography adventures and Gabby who is now living in Nairobi whilst working for the University of Warwick. As she is an expert in tribal politics, Gabby follows truth commissions around Kenya. She is also writing yet another interesting book on the subject.

I currently live and work in London and always look forward to seeing my old flatmate when she visits. We always meet, celebrate and enjoy ethnic food in places such as Brixton Village Market or Dalston Street Feast, where I made Gabby’s portrait above. I loved how the blue shipping container we ate beside acted as the perfect impromptu backdrop for her splendid and vibrant outfit.

 

Bec, Folk & Tea

Bec at RiverHawke Festival

Bec at RiverHawke Festival

One of my favourite little Australian sisters Bec, also known as Freeborn Exhibit B in my collection of wonderful people, is on this side of the equator, adventuring through Europe for a few months. I was thrilled to meet her in Dublin recently when we were both travelling in Ireland. Since so much of our friendship is based around folk music and tea drinking it was very fitting that we met at The Cobblestone traditional music pub in Smithfield, Dublin. I arrived to find Bec singing a cappella with the whole session enthralled by her beautiful voice.

I was then honoured to be able to play host to Bec in Brixton, London a few weeks ago and will be doing so again when she arrives back from her current European adventures. I will be making a portrait of Bec when she returns but I wanted to share this, one of my favourite portraits which I took when we were at RiverHawke Festival outside Sydney with friends a few years ago. What a weekend of fun that was!

I can’t wait to hear all about Bec’s adventures in Europe over a pot of something special from T2, the fantastic tea shop she worked in in Sydney for many years. Originally conceived in Melbourne there’s now one in Shoreditch, London, where we will be making a pilgrimage to upon her return. Bec also made me a great Spotify folk music playlist so that will work nicely and I’m hoping we can seek out a traditional Irish folk session in London too.