Soho Archives

1950s and 1960s

In the heart of the West End, Soho has long been a haven for creativity and criminality, scandal and sexuality, and a source of inspiration for photographers. The three fascinating archives in this exhibition document this bohemian area of London, famed in the 50s and 60s for its vibrancy and exoticism.

Art Exhibition previously on at The Photographers' Gallery in Greater London, United Kingdom.
From Friday 26 September 2008 to Sunday 16 November 2008

Fans outside St Patrick’s Church in Soho Square during the wedding of Tommy Steele to Ann Donoghue image

Published by anonymous on Saturday 30 August 2008.
Contact the publisher.

Jean Straker (UK, 1913 – 1984) founded the Visual Arts Club in Soho in 1951 ‘for artistes and photographers, amateur and professional, studying the female nude’. He was a prolific photographer, and his photographs are now part of the collection of the National Media Museum in Bradford. The works are remarkable for their lack of artifice, their sexuality and curiosity and for reflecting the sexual predilections of the era.

Magnum photographer David Hurn (UK, b. 1934) documented Soho’s strippers, in the many peep shows and strip clubs. With a sympathetic and insightful gaze, Hurn depicts these working women in their public and private spaces, both performing and at rest.

Photographs from the Daily Herald Archive show how press photographers were drawn to Soho, as both a hub of criminality and the backdrop for an explosion of youth culture. From images of scarred gangsters to the wedding of 50s pop star and teen idol Tommy Steele, these photographs and the scandal they caused are icons of the 50s and 60s.

This exhibition is curated by Val Williams and Bob Pullen.