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Terry O’Neill is a living legend of photography. Born in London in 1938, at the age of 14 he left school with the ambition to become a jazz drummer. Although having played in various London clubs, O’Neill soon turned his attention to his real passion, namely photography.

Employed by BOAC as a technical trainee photographer, in 1959 he unexpectedly came across the Home Secretary at that time, Rab Butler, while working at London’s Heathrow Airport. The picture earned him a part-time job at The Sunday Dispatch marking the beginning of an extraordinarily successful career. In the early ‘60s, O’Neill started his collaboration with one of the most renowned tabloids of the time, The Daily Sketch.


Characterised by a professional, spontaneous as well as relaxed style, he soon became very much in demand by the stars: among his most iconic shots are The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot, Sean Connery and Michael Cain, Elizabeth Taylor, David Bowie and many others. Freelance photographer for some of the most celebrated magazines such as Vogue, Paris Match, Rolling Stones, Look and Life, Terry O’Neill is today considered as one of the greatest British artist of our time with his work featured at the prestigious National Portrait Gallery.

As many artists, O’Neill has never gave anyone permission to edit – or re-edit – his own work. Things have recently changed though: Terry O’Neill – Reworked at Rook and Raven gallery sees many of O’Neill’s most representative pictures alongside a reinterpreted version inspired by and incorporating his photographs. The exhibition – featuring portraits of the aforementioned Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and The Rolling Stones along with Terence Stamp, Jean Shrimpton, Raquel Welch,  Elton John and Mick Jagger – hosts a selection of works by the likes of Pam Glew, Curtis Kulig, James Marshall, James Dawe, Daniel Lumbini and James Mylne displayed side by side with O’Neill’s in order to contextualise the collaboration.


Among the works exhibited, particularly catchy are Lumbini’s take on Mick Jagger, surrounded by eager female hands; Dawe’s digitally retouched version of Brigitte Bardot’s pic smoking a cigarette; Marshall’s take on a much younger Elton John dressed in a long coat and a top hat; Glew’s rework of Terence Stamp and Jean Shrimpton’s photo using her trademark dyed fabric. O’Neill’s far-famed Raquel Welch on Cross features twice, reworked by both Marshall and Kulig.

Explaining show Terry O’Neill said: “I have been looking at my photographs for decades and they’ve become very familiar to me. What I love about this collaboration with Rook and Raven is having young artists with a fresh eye interpreting iconic images for a new generation. I am excited to see what they do and why they do it. For me, there is nothing so rewarding as working with new talent and fresh ideas.

Featuring many of O’Neill’s most iconic works along with outstanding ‘reinterpretations’ by notable contemporary talents, Terry O’Neill – Reworked is a must-see exhibition which surely won’t let you down.


Terry O’Neill – Reworked will be running until March 31st at Rook and Raven Gallery, 7 – 8 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1HN.

Words By Jacopo Nuvolari


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