I have already written about the momentous year of 1963 (http://www.culturevoyage.co.uk/books/) and make no apology for doing so again as it was so important for British society. Some argue that ‘Swinging London’ was just that, a musical and artistic frenzy fuelled by drugs which was limited to the capital and ignored by the rest of the country. But the sociological changes it helped bring about were widespread and the more liberal and open life we Brits enjoy today would have been unimaginable 50 years ago. For example, in 1963 in the UK, homosexual acts between men were illegal and the idea that same-sex couples could marry and adopt children was literally unthinkable. Personally, I can’t get enough of that annus mirabilis and Proud Chelsea are hosting a show of photographs by some of the most famous snappers of the era, including Terry O’Neill, Brian Duffy and Eric Swayne, featuring many of the stars and personalities of the time.
O’Neill’s photographs are well-represented in the display which is no surprise given that the National Portrait Gallery holds 75 of his original prints in its collection. Less well-known, perhaps, is Eric Swayne who had no formal photography training but picked up a camera at the age of 29 and started to shoot his friends on the scene. The results are still fresh to this day.
The exhibition also ties in with the publication of a new book – 1963: the Year of the Revolution: How Youth Changed the World with Music, Art, and Fashion – by Ariel Leve and Robin Morgan, an oral history of that year and the ‘Youthquake’ brought about by a group of teenagers and young musicians and designers who helped bring about a radical change in society.
1963: The Year of the Revolution, Proud Chelsea, 28th November 2013 – 19th January 2014