Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green, London

9 November 2015 § Leave a comment

Organised to anticipate the release of the film, Legend, on the 9 September, this exhibition offers a fine photographic overview of the world of the Kray twins.

Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green London

The film itself is the latest take on the story of the Krays, and features a brilliant performance by Tom Hardy who bravely takes on the roles of both twins.

Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green London

The Kray’s living room set from the film has been transported to the exhibition space. It acts as a sixties style viewing area for a short, looped documentary that hears from some notable characters from that period.

Duffy Archive

Duffy Archive

Along the walls are images from a number of top photographers. The renowned war photographer, Don McCullin, who visited the area for over twenty years from the 1960’s onwards, provides some notable images in his confrontational style.

Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green London

Don McCullin/the East End Archive at the Cass

McCullin captured the “suffering, drama and misery” of what he termed the “social wars” of this part of the city.

Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green London

Also included are pictures by the equally celebrated photographer, Brian Duffy, a contemporary of David Bailey.

Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green London

One particular picture shows Reggie sparring with his grandfather, Jimmy “Cannonball” Lee, who introduced the twins to boxing when they were children. Many more of his pictures of the twins were sadly lost when he destroyed much of his archive.


Jocelyn Bain Hogg

Other photographers exhibited include David George who spent thirty years taking photographs of the East End, and Jocelyn Bain Hogg, a documentary photographer who is also the author of five books including The Firm: a portrayal of criminal life from which the exhibited images are drawn.

Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green London

This excellent exhibition acts not only as a look at the Krays themselves but at the East End of London at the time and features the highest quality documentary photography.

Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green London

Curator Zelda Cheatle says: “What I was conscious to do was not the clichéd thing to glamorise violence or make out the East End to be a terrible place full of violence. What I really hope is some of the joy and desire for life in the streets comes through.”

Legend Of The East End, Bethnal Green London

“The exhibition looks at the East End of the 60’s and 70’s, brought to life by the people who lived there, the photographers who captured everyday life, the undercurrents that continue to exist, and importantly it reflects the poetry of the streets. ”

Fox Photos/Getty Images

Fox Photos/Getty Images

The Legend Of The East End runs until 11 Sept 2015 at 135 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 7DG

For further info, visit: http://www.visitlondon.com/legend

Images courtesy Cass Archive, Duffy Images, Getty Images

the krays, adolf hitler and von ribbentrop’s watch (by marks & gran)

25 August 2010 § Leave a comment

If you like this post please make a comment or like it. If you enjoy the blog please sign up for regular updates (right). Thanks akuta

To continue on from the theme initiated in the last post there is the difficult question on the moral rights and wrongs of owning works by villains of various types. I certainly had some initial misgivings about my modest purchase of a signed copy of Kray Poems, despite the relatively low rating on the international ‘evil’ scale of these archetypal London hoodlums. What was my deeper motivation behind owning a Kray Twins  ‘souvenir’?  Naturally we are all intrigued by the mentality of – let us not beat about the bush – deranged and brutal murderers – whilst being strangely attracted by their notoriety. In the end I felt that their murderous tendencies had by now been long been subsumed by their kitsch value. They are now little more than cartoon twins with dark glasses and suits, Hale & Pace’s ‘Management’, a spoof representation of the 1960’s East End. Ultimately my little book is little more than a perverse ‘joke’ on the lack of intelligence of the average post-war gangster – The Thoughts and Poems of Ronnie Kray – Thoughts? Are you kidding me!

Somewhat higher up on the naughty list is someone like Adolf Hitler, who was a notorious dauber of course, refused entry to art school in Vienna before a slight change in direction. Thirteen works of his sold in Shropshire last year for £95,000, whilst in 2008 Mark & Dinos Chapman overpainted another thirteen watercolours bought for £115,000 before re-selling them for £685,000 stating that they were redeeming the work rather than Hitler – the exhibition entitled If Hitler Had Been A Hippy How Happy Would We Be. White Cube were forced to announce that they would be ‘extremely careful’ as to who the works were sold to. Whilst I could never imagine owning a Hitler watercolour I love the way the Chapmans have seized these works from the realm of the Nazi memorabilia collectors.  Now ‘recreated’  in the art world they brilliantly destroy their previous nazi-sympathiser associations and, in their new incarnation, are highly desirable and guilt-free! For an interesting Sunday Times article about Hitler art at auction click here.

I recently discovered another, rather ingenious, way to assuage guilt over ownership of an item of dubious provenance. Over an entertaining dinner with Laurence Marks of the Marks & Gran writing team (famous for Birds of a Feather, New Statesman etc) he described his dilemma upon discovering that he was the unwitting owner of a piece of very valuable nazi memorabilia. An innocently bought watch had turned out to be a relic from the notorious Nazi Von Ribbentrop. Despite excitement over the value (some £50,000) writing partner and family were quite naturally mortified and alarmed at the potential attraction of the watch to collectors of Nazi memorabilia as well as the problem of explaining away their ownership of such an item. How could one dispose of it? Should one sell it at all? Should it be destroyed? The ingenious solution was to write a play, Von Ribbentrop’s Watch, based on the story whilst the watch would be consigned securely to a bank vault, never to be sold or seen. Opening at the Oxford Playhouse (9-18 September) it is then touring, via Richmond Theatre, before reaching the West End. If the story is half as interesting or amusing as the snippets that I have heard so far it will be one to – let us say – watch!

HostGator review

ronnie & reggie – the art of the krays

24 August 2010 § 2 Comments

If you like this post please make a comment or like it. If you enjoy the blog please sign up for regular updates (right). Thanks akuta

Two artists that were more likely to have a brush with the law than one with a canvas (sorry!) are the notorious East End gangsters, the Kray twins. They did however manage to produce a number of works whilst they were in ‘the slammer’ and, with a total of nearly 60 years behind bars, there was certainly no lack of spare time to practice their brushwork. I already knew much of their art, not least because last January I was at Chiswick Auctions at an auction of Kray possessions where a small attractive landscape took my eye. With a reserve price in the hundreds it looked good value as a novelty investment but sharp bidding took it quickly up to £3200. I settled for a signed book of Ronnies Poetry (!) for a couple of hundred instead.

This week it has just been announced by Bloomsbury Auctions that five paintings, in this case produced by Reggie in 1986, are due to be sold at auction. Although clearly amateurish it turns out that these works are actually not that bad. I actually love the Kirchner styled street scene whilst a couple of impressionistic landscapes recalling Monet have some artistic qualities too.

Value? There is a recent history of Kray paintings on the market. Another of Ronnie’s at Chiswick sold for £4,800 whilst a couple of months later in Andover in March 2009 nine paintings tripled their low estimates and sold for £17,000. Back in 2008, in Suffolk, eight paintings in one lot fetched a total of £16,000. The Blomsbury sale has five canvases plus a batch of letters estimated at £1,500 to £2,000- a price which looks like it is set at a deliberately low level in order to tempt in potential buyers. Look for a price to match previous sales – about £2000 each  looks right – with a hammer of well over £10,000 on the day.

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