Coinciding with The Stone Roses‘ reunion this summer is a beautifully presented exhibition of photographs and memorabilia entitled The Stone Roses: The Third Coming.
Taking place at ‘The Space’ in Bayswater, London, this insightful retrospective is heralded as ‘The Definitive Exhibition’ and is indeed an authoritative illustrative account of the band’s rise to success through a remarkable selection of images.
Featuring the exceptional work of celebrated rock photographers Kevin Cummins, Paul Slattery and Ian Tilton, ‘The Third Coming’ represents the band from their embryonic pre-fame days to icons of a generation. The significance of these photographs should never be underestimated. Focusing in particular on the period of 1988-1990, they capture the band as their career evolved while also helping to sculpt, define and establish that very image.
Consider for instance Ian Tilton’s early sessions, the results of which later adorned the inner sleeve of the Roses’ debut. His strong rapport with the band enabled him to entice animated responses – such as Ian Brown pulling his ‘monkey face’ for the first time – leading to very natural impressions that never feel manufactured. Then there are the experimental painted glass pictures spawned from John Squire’s love of Jackson Pollock. It highlights the creative and collaborative relationship between subject and architect, pushing boundaries, always open to new ideas. It’s no wonder Tilton was once the Roses main photographer.
Paul Slattery’s images concentrate on shots taken from concerts in Glasgow and Japan as well as legendary Spike Island. His ability to depict the band’s playful confidence on film is astonishing and the backstage pictures offer a brief but charming personal intimacy. From individual portraits to group shots Slattery is master of catching personalities on camera and not just the moment.
Of course the prints by Kevin Cummins of a paint-spattered Roses for NME are perhaps most recognisable of all. They truly encapsulate the band’s mischievous nature while leaning toward the abstract. And his ability to take the seemingly mundane and transform it into art as he does with ‘Reni’s Hat’ explains why his work can be found in The National Portrait Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Stone Roses have always worn their hearts on their sleeves. No pretensions, never contrived. Their unvarnished honesty adds to their appeal and this presentation, set in a buzzing environment with its Manchester-based soundtrack is a unique document of their rise.
The exhibition is open now until 12 August 2012. All prints are hand-signed, numbered and available to purchase in strictly limited from runs of 10 to 50. If you find the price tags a little too steep (and they start at £600 + VAT) then you can always opt to create your own image in front of the large specially constructed Stone Roses-Pollock-esque wall which is a really nice touch