Film Maker Photographer

Ken Russell








(c) Ken Russell - Stage Door - Last of the Teddy Girls £3500 20 x 24 Editioned 5/25
(c) Ken Russell - A Window on HIgh Fashion - Last of the Teddy Girls £2500 20 x 16" Ediitoned 5/25
(c) Ken Russell - Girl With Lampshade £2000 Editioned 5/25 Signed 20 x 16
(c) Ken Russell - Last of the Teddy Girls - £900 Unsigned 20 x 16 Estate Stamped
(c) Ken Russell - London - Estate Stamped £900 20 x 16"
(c) Ken Russell - Kids on Bombsite - £900 Estate Stamped 20 x 16"
(c) Ken Russell - Portobello- Estate Stamped 20 x 16"
(c) Ken Russsell - Last of the Teddy Girlls on Bombsite 20 x 16" Signed Editioned £2,500
(c) Ken Russell - Orphans of The Storm Estate Stamped £900
(c) Ken Russell - Portobello
(c) Ken Russell - Looking Out 20 x 16" Signed Silver Gelatin print edition 5/25 £2000
(c) Ken Russell - A Question of Honour - Estate Stamped £900
(c) Ken Russell - Boys on Bombsite 20 x 16" signed silver gelatin print 2/25 - Estate Stamped £2000
(c) Ken Russell - Penny Farthing 20 x 16" Silver gelatin print 5/25 Signed £2000
(c) Ken Russell Leg Over Girl 20 x 16 Silver Gelatin print signed edition 5/25 £2000

For more than 40 years, Ken Russell has directed some of the most provocative, controversial, and memorable films in British cinema, including Women in Love, The Music Lovers, Tommy, and Altered States. Lesser known is his working life as a photographer, which spans three intense years and crosses over into his early film career.

This exhibition from Ken Russell’s archive at the TopFoto image library, would not have existed had not Alan Smith, (TopFoto’s owner) insisted on taking the negatives away again after showing them to Russell for identification after they were unearthed in the TopFoto archives in 2005. A few months later, Russell’s house burned to the ground, most of his original scripts and research were destroyed.

From 1954 to 1957, after giving up on his career as a ballet dancer, Russell freelanced as a photographer. Submitting work to the Pictorial Press agency, his photographs appeared in publications such as Illustrated Magazine and Picture Post. He trained in photography at Walthamstow College. “You learned about texture, form and pattern, which I promptly discarded.”

Russell’s “cinematic eye” is in early evidence in his photographic work, as he starts to draw mini-dramas within the single frame; his series of Portobello scenes, snapshots from the everyday, reveals a sensitive humanity, whilst the voyeur and viewed are intertwined. The subjects are often aware of their part in the photograph, as if the photographer is directing the natural action, whilst remaining candid… However, this more candid work is very different from the work emerging from the Troubadour; surreal compositions created with the help of the Troubadour coffee girls expose Russells linear intelligence “They’re a bit odd and they’re of their time,” says Russell. “Some are a bit abstract or surreal.” Through the 50’s and 60’s the Troubadour was one of THE centres of London intellectual and artistic life. Ken Russell recruited staff for his first shorts here, and it was here that he became friends with Oliver Reed, and the path to his film career was set.

“In a way I was making still films, I suppose. Some of the photographs were catch-as-catch-can. But I learnt the value of the perfect composition. When they sent me the prints I thought, ‘My God, did I take these? They’re not bad.’ Secretly, I think they’re rather special.”

His early work such as the Teddy Girl series have all the characteristic of a “great photographer”, they are iconic images, unearthed at last, and deserve acclaim.

March 17, 2014


Sadly Ken Russell died December 2011. Although the gallery still holds limited edition prints prices start at £900

Guardian Observer Article: Sean O’HaganGuardian Observer

Daily Beast New York

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For press images or interviews please contact Lucy Bell.

01424 434 828