Rockarchive - 50 years of British Rock A collection of 50 iconic images from leading photographers showcasing the finest rock artists the UK has produced
The UK has produced many of the most successful groups and performers in international rock music over the last half-century. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Elton John, Oasis, Coldplay, Adele… the list is endless. Its genres of rock have been equally influential: Beat Music in the 60s; Glam, Progressive Rock, Punk and New Wave in the 70s; New Romantic, Synthpop and Goth in the 80s; Indie and Britpop in the 90s; etc.
Alongside have been the photographers. It has been this small army of creative lensmen and women who have supplied the images that make up the rock package – image being as important as the music in many cases. Whether they be captured on stage, or taken formally in a studio with nothing left to chance, or snapped naturally in an unguarded moment, many of these photographs have become iconic.
The selection here is not supposed to be a comprehensive history of British rock imagery. It is a personal selection and omits many well-known artists. But at the same time I hope it gives a reasonable spread across five decades of talent and creativity, of both the photographers and their subjects.
Rockarchive was founded in 1998 by photographer Jill Furmanovsky. The idea was to make unseen work from her own archive and that of her colleagues more accessible to fans and collectors of photography. It has proven to be a thriving success. Jill has won many awards for her music photography including The Jane Brown Observer Portrait Award for her classic Charlie Watts portrait in 1992. In 1998 she was honoured with the accolade 'Woman of the Year for Music and Related Industries'.
The Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in China would like to thank Jill Furmanovsky, Jane Ripley and Tracey Kraft of Rockarchive; all the photographers; and Shanghai Automobile Industry Company for its support in producing and touring this exhibition in China.
Curated by David Elliott, First Secretary (Arts), Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy, Beijing
This exhibition is touring China as part of the UK Now festival of British arts, April to November 2012.
What is Rockarchive?
Rockarchive is a British based collective of rock and roll photographers. It was founded in 1998 by UK rock photographer, Jill Furmanovsky, who has her own 35-year archive of rock music images. Jill's original idea was to create an archive of archives, by joining her images to the work of colleagues in the same genre. The result is an eclectic collection of pivotal moments in rock and roll history. Rockarchive specializes in publishing and distributing fine-art, mainly photographic prints in limited editions, by some of the world's best photographers.
Profile of Jill Furmanovsky
Jill Furmanovsky was born in Rhodesia in the mid-50's and moved with her family to the UK in the mid-60's. She became a Beatles fan as a teenager and took her first rock shot of Paul McCartney with two of her school friends on a Kodak Instamatic camera. Jill studied textile and graphic design at Central school of Art in the mid 70's. After a 2-week course in photography she landed the unpaid but fascinating job of photographer for London's top rock venue, The Rainbow Theatre. Throughout the mid-70's and 80's Jill photographed many concerts there including artists such as The Faces, Bob Marley, Miles Davis and Led Zeppelin. She went on to work for the music press, shooting documentary stories on Stevie Wonder, The Police, Pink Floyd, Eurythmics, Eric Clapton, and many others. In 1994 Jill began working with Brit-pop band Oasis. She was invited to document their career until their split in 2009. Jill was also photographer for the Pink Floyd reunion concert in London's Hyde Park for 'Live 8' in 2005. She founded the collective of music photographers, Rockarchive.com in 1998 with her friends Jane Ripley, Michele Esterman and Neil Scott. Nick Mason, drummer of Pink Floyd, is also on the board of the company. Jill continues to shoot pictures of rock musicians and her enthusiasm for new talent is undiminished.
Profile of Jane Ripley
Jane Ripley and Jill Furmanovsky met 30 years ago when Jane worked as a stylist for Jill on a series of album covers and fan magazine features for Madness, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, and many other groups . They became firm friends and 12 years ago when Jill founded Rockarchive, Jane bought the first picture of Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones to start the company trading. That particular image has increased in financial value since then by an astonishing 350%, but will never be for sale since it is so precious for so many other reasons! She, and a few other friends, have backed Rockarchive with time, effort and enthusiasm, out of a real passion and admiration for the amazing images, the incredibly high print quality and the work of all the photographers, not just Jill now, but an ever increasing number of great photographers around the world that Rockarchive has grown to represent. Jane became a director helping to set up the company, designing and furnishing the first galleries in London, Dublin and Amsterdam in the early days of Rockarchive. She also organised sponsorship and designed exhibitions at the Roundhouse in Camden, Abbey Road Recording Studio, leading banks in the City of London like Deutsche Bank and at arts educational organisations like the University of Bath.
Jane is also an active designer in her own right and the link with China came through Jane¹s work for Hong Kong in London. She designed the London part of the Handover of Hong Kong in 1997, at London Arena and for the last seven years has strengthened her ties with Hong Kong and China through visits and through design work for the Hong Kong Trade and Economic Office, London.
Where are the countries Rockarchive toured to and any feedback?
Rockarchive has toured the world over the last 10 years. Countries that have hosted Rockarchive exhibitions include the USA, Canada, Europe - including Italy, Ireland, Holland & Spain, Denmark, Australia, Dubai and Japan. Wherever the work has been shown there have been crowds of appreciative fans and a great deal of press coverage.
Theme/Anything special about Rockarchive for China?
Images curated for the UK Now exhibition in China celebrate the UK's extraordinary influence on rock and roll history. Ever since the days of The Beatles, the British have lead the way in popular music, which has been a multi million pound industry being heard and emulated around the world. More and more groups from the UK are now playing concerts in China, and China is answering their presence with a greater knowledge and enthusiasm for British music. Rock and roll music is one of the UK's greatest exports to the rest of the world. A vibrant cultural influence and unique means of expression for each and every generation of young people. In the West it has not only been an industry that has been heard, but also one that has very much been seen! Rock artists have been style icons to every generation that has followed their music - from their clothes, make up and hair styles to life style, each band has followers and imitators in the fans who love their music.
Rockarchive hope to include photographs of most of the best known rock artists to come out of Great Britain and Ireland. These include rare images of The Beatles, early photo-shoots with the mysterious Pink Floyd, thrilling live shots of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Clash and Oasis, intimate pictures of David Bowie traveling on the Trans-Siberian Express, and early pictures from the punk era including The Sex Pistols, The Police, The Smiths and U2. We hope this exhibition will go some way towards explaining why 50 years on from the first Beatles recordings, the world is still rock-crazy.