Getty Images Gallery in London is to host SOHO, a new exhibition featuring rare imagery of the legendary and infamous area of central London before it had its heart ripped out by gentrification.
Famous (or infamous) as the centre of London’s sex industry – with prostitutes, strip clubs, porno cinemas and sex shops proliferating – and well known for the night life and sense of freedom and edginess that made it a magnet for young people, artists and musicians, Soho used to be the very definition of ‘bohemian’ – exciting, dangerous and inspiring. Those days are long gone, but this new exhibition brings it all back.
The photographs juxtapose the seedy underbelly with the hustle and bustle of everyday life – street workers and sex workers side by side. Also featured in the exhibition are images of iconic musicians, including David Bowie performing at The Marquee Club on Wardour Street, and jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis performing at Ronnie Scott’s legendary Jazz Club.
The exhibition came to life after the discovery of a glass-plate from 1910 called ‘The Smallest Shop’, which was situated at 4 Bateman Street in Soho. This tiny shop measured only six feet long, five feet high and two feet deep. The novelty of this caught the attention of the Getty Images Gallery, and researchers began a year long project to mine the archives for more pictures that encapsulate the fascinating history of the area.
SOHO runs from 22nd September – 19th November 2016, and admission is free. Opening hours are from 10.00am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, 12.00pm to 5.30pm Saturday.