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4th June 2023

Richard Kelly’s ‘A Time and Place’ exhibition invites you into music’s past

The Mancunion visits the Arctic Monkeys’ personal photographer, Richard Kelly, latest exhibition ‘A Time and Place’. It’s fair to say its a must visit exhibition for this summer.
Richard Kelly’s ‘A Time and Place’ exhibition invites you into music’s past
Florence Welch. Photo: Richard Kelly Press

When walking through Richard Kelly’s new exhibition, A Time and Place, a thought might strike you: is there any UK indie musician from the 90s and 00s that Richard Kelly hasn’t photographed? Kelly is someone who has photographed artists in the earliest days of their career, having taken Florence Welch’s first press pictures and having worked as the Arctic Monkeys’ photographer at the start of their career. In his latest exhibition, A Time and Place, he invites you on a journey into the last twenty years of British indie music.

Many of the photographs on display are moments where the subject was completely unaware that the photos were being taken, even if the subject is someone as legendary as Amy Winehouse. That picture is perhaps the centrepiece of the exhibition, as it encapsulates everything that is striking about Kelly’s photography. In the photograph, Winehouse is looking away at something we, the viewers, cannot see. Kelly has removed himself completely from the viewer’s consideration and, because of this, he shows us a rare intimate moment of an artist, like Winehouse, who we seem to know everything about.

Photo: Richard Kelly Press

Other photographs in the exhibition have this same feeling, a feeling of being an invisible observer behind the scenes watching great artists at work. The picture of Pete Doherty shows the musician looking almost surprised at his photograph being taken. John Cooper Clark looks away from the camera in Kelly’s portrait of him, just as Winehouse does. It’s rare to see artists so candid. Each photo lacks a description of the artists they are depicting; Kelly isn’t interested in telling you how the music scene used to be, he’s inviting you behind the camera and showing you.

Of course, there were many photos of the Arctic Monkeys in their early days. Some of the photographs showed the band in the studio, working on the songs that would rocket them into stardom, but just as many of the photographs showed something else: the fans. The photographs of the band were a window not only into the band’s history, but their fans’ history. In each photograph, there was an eclectic range of ways of dressing, showing the ways that the Arctic Monkeys’ fans have changed as the years have gone by. The photographs are a reminder of the enduring popularity of the band, as they are as beloved now as they were when they debuted.

Arctic Monkeys Fans. Photo: Richard Kelly Press

The exhibition was not only focused on Kelly, however, as he chose to highlight some upcoming Mancunian acts: Akemi Fox and Anthony Szmierek. Both artists represent the new forms in which music is appearing in Manchester.

Szmierek is a spoken word performer and hip-hop musician and Fox is a singer-songwriter, and both got their start on social media. Their performances gripped the room and showed they are both definitely artists to watch. It was a welcome sign that Manchester has no shortage of up-and-coming artists.

Richard Kelly’s new exhibition truly gives you a window into a certain Time and Place in music history, transporting you back to the 2000s and backstage with legendary musicians, such as Amy Winehouse. Despite the retrospective nature of the exhibition, the photos of Fox and Szmierek show that Kelly isn’t just looking back, he’s looking ahead too.

Kelly’s new exhibition ‘A Time and Place’ is on display from June 12023 until August 31 2023 at the Kimpton Clocktower. Be sure not to miss it.

Owen Scott

Owen Scott

Head Arts Editor at the Mancunion and culture journalist

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