A FLEDGLING arts centre has been chosen to host an exhibition of intimate photographs charting a decade in the life of American country music legend Johnny Cash.
A collection of 32 images of Cash, half of which have never been displayed in public before, will go on show at Summerhall, the former vet school in Edinburgh, which opened as an arts venue last year.
The pictures of “The Man in Black”, as Cash was known, were taken by American photographer, Jim Marshall, a friend who had unique access to the singer-songwriter and his family.
Mr Marshall documented everything from Cash’s famous prison concerts at Folsom and San Quentin to his encounters with musicians such as Bob Dylan.
Summerhall’s exhibition also features intimate portraits with Cash and his wife June Carter.
Cash, who traced his family tree back to 11th-century Fife, had a love of country and Celtic music. He visited Scotland several times, memorably in 1981 when he recorded a Christmas special for American television.
The Summerhall exhibition does not feature photographs of Cash in Scotland, but chronicles the phase of his life when he was battling drug addiction and contending with the impact of his gruelling tour schedule.
The last project Marshall worked on before his death two years ago was a book of his photographs of Cash, who died in 2003. In it he revealed the story behind the famous Cash photograph “giving the finger” to prison authorities at San Quentin.
At least half of the exhibits are different from those that appeared in a show of Marshall’s work staged in London last year.
Paul Robertson, Summerhall curator, said: “There is an agent for the Jim Marshall Archive in London and we approached him and asked if we could put an exhibition together.
“We don’t have any of the classic images of Cash, as we thought they had been seen so often, but we understand that 16 of the photographs have never been part of any exhibition.”
A spokesman for Summerhall added: “Insightful and intelligent portraits are mixed with social documentation in this exhibition of black and white and colour images from a period when Cash was struggling with his own demons of despair and drugs, being supported by June Carter and her family, and his eventual redemption.”
Summerhall, which overlooks the Meadows on the city’s southside, has been transformed over the past 18 months by a wealthy benefactor, Robert McDowell, and impresario Rupert Thomson.
It played host to the revived Edinburgh International Fashion Festival in August over and above exhibitions, plays, cabaret club nights and one-off gigs. As well as hosting year-round events it is also now home to dozens of artists’ studios and workshop spaces.
To coincide with the Cash exhibition, Summerhall has also secured a smaller showcase of Bob Dylan photographs, taken on his famous 1966 UK tour, when he suffered the infamous “Judas” heckle for playing an electric guitar. American photographer Barry Feinstein, who had decided to follow Dylan around Britain on the tour, was best known for the portrait of the singer-songwriter on the 1964 album The Times They Are A-Changin’.
Other Summerhall exhibitions launching tonight include a collection of posters charting 35 years of anti-racism movements in the UK, being exhibited in Scotland for the first time, and a showcase for the late Parisian avant-garde artist Henri Chopin, who died four years ago.