HE is one of the world’s greatest photographers whose body of work ranges from images of Sixties icons such as John Lennon and Mick Jagger and portraits of East End women enjoying a night out to Nelson Mandela and harrowing images of starving children in refugee camps in the Sudan.
Now fans of David Bailey’s work have the opportunity to revel in the landmark exhibition Bailey’s Stardust, opening today at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.
The landmark show – the most extensive photography exhibition ever mounted by the National Galleries of Scotland – features more than 300 photographs and material from Bailey’s own personal archive such as book and magazine covers.
Key works come from the seminal David Bailey’s Box of Pin-Ups of 1965 as well as outstanding later examples of his portraits from the world of fashion, ranging from designers Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfield to models Jean Shriimpton and Kate Moss.
Bailey’s Stardust also showcases portraits of artists, painters, film directors, actors and fellow photographers including Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Bill Brandt, Johnny Depp, Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst.
A unique feature of the show is Moonglow, a room filled with work in different media which was not part of the Bailey’s Stardust international photography exhibition when shown in London, Arles and Milan.
Speaking to The Scotsman ahead of the exhibition, Bailey, 73, who was born in the East End of London, revealed that Scotland had played a prominent role in his courtship of Catherine Dyer, the model who became his muse, wife and mother of his three children.
Pictures of Catherine feature in both Bailey’s Stardust and Moonglow.
“I seduced my wife on the Isle of Skye,” he said. “I was taking pictures of her for Italian Vogue. Skye was very romantic, I’d met her before, it wasn’t a one-night stand”, he joked.
Bailey said there had been occasions when people had refused to have their picture taken, despite his reputation.
“Yeh, in places like the East End or Delhi or somewhere, but I sort of make a joke of it. With my background, that’s what I learned to do.”
Moonglow includes Bailey’s Dartmoor Series whereby photos mounted on canvas, including one of The Kray Twins, were left outside exposed to the elements to weather.
It also has miniature boxes filled with found objects such as a dead robin in tribute to William Blake’s poem “A Robin Redbreast in a Cage Puts All Heaven in a Cage”.
“I’ve always liked birds, when I was growing up everyone had parrots,” he said.
Christopher Baker, director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, told The Scotsman: “David Bailey is a phenomenon: a consistently brilliant photographer, whose insightful work pinpoints defining figures and moments in our cultural life, but also allows us to share aspects of his own world and meteoric career.
“The National Galleries of Scotland is profoundly grateful to him for all he has done to make it possible for this hugely successful exhibition to be seen in Scotland during the International Festival of 2015.”
• Bailey’s Stardust, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, 18 July-18 October. Admission £11/9.