“London, in the late 70’s, was the perfect place for someone like myself. I had devoured the counter-culture that erupted in the America of the 60’s and early 70’s. London presented itself as a creative playground. There were empty buildings to live in and an abundance of unused warehouse spaces allowed me to shoot very large, and sometimes complicated, sets. As long as I didn’t mind spending most of my fee on a shoot I could achieve almost anything.
I studied at London College of Printing where the graphical element of images, the meaning of subtle gesture, the rules of perception and the science behind the art became my focus. I started taking studio shots, learning how to light, and organise a photo session. There were many collaborations, but Stephen Jones, then a student at St.Martins, was the most influential. Becoming social secretary in my final year created a circle of music contacts, taught me to commission posters and hire bands.
After graduating and during my apprenticeship as a photographers assistant, I got my first commissions from Rusty Egan and Steve Strange for their band Visage, Stephen Jones, now a hat designer, for his newly opened first shop and Alex McDowell who had just set up his record cover design company, Rocking Russians.
From then on everything just got bigger and bigger: The Blitz, New Romantics, Adam and the Ants, Soft Cell, Eurythmics. The 1980’s was a feverish decade in which many experimenters in music, fashion and style became household names, and I was right in the mix of things. Discovering that I was mentioned in Mari Wilson’s song “Just What I Always Wanted” added a surreal edge.
I had many successes shooting music photography; allowing me to work with inspired creators, both behind and in front of the camera, and able to keep building a set of extraordinary iconographic images.
A few of which I present in my first London solo show.
All prints have been made by Brian Dowling, of BDi Labs, on FujiFlex SuperGloss photographic archive paper. Brian created Cross-Process, a film process and a new look, changing the colour palette forever and by his use of masks and light, a fresh vision in colour printing. I am very pleased he has taken part in creating the richly coloured images for this exhibition.”
Peter Ashworth - 2018