The first major British exhibition of the photographer Chalkie Davies, since his groundbreaking show at the Photographers gallery in the 1980s is taking place at the Snap Gallery in Piccadilly . It will run from Saturday 15 March to Saturday 26 April 2014. The exhibition celebrates Davies’ music photographs from the 1970s and 80s and is a prequel to a major museum exhibition which will be held at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff in 2015.
Chalkie’s images will need no introduction to readers of the British music press in the seventies and eighties. Until now, he has remained under the radar of photography collectors, because he has only recently started the painstaking process of reviewing his archives, and making signed limited editions for the collectors market.
Chalkie wasn’t always a portrait photographer. After spending four years training to become an aircraft engineer at British Airways, he decided that joining the rock and roll circus was a better way to earn a living than fixing broken autopilots on jumbo jets. So in 1973 he gave up life at the airport and became a photographer. The 20-year-old Davies joined the NME as staff photographer in 1975 and worked there until 1979, where he shot numerous covers and features. He toured with Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and Thin Lizzy, and in 1980 he helped start The Face with his old NME editor Nick Logan, shooting the early covers. In 1981 Pete Townshend’s Eel Pie Publishing imprint published ‘Pointed Portraits’, a book of Chalkie’s work for the Face and NME. Now out of print,and a collectors item in its own right.
In 1982, Chalkie moved permanently into the studio, specialising in black and white portraiture. He shot dozens of record covers for many artists including The Specials, The Pretenders, The Who, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and David Bowie.
In 1988 he decided to switch careers, and moved to New York with his partner Carol Starr (where he still lives) to open a large still life studio. Using his background in engineering he merged his passion for both computers and photography by converting the multi-set studio to digital in 2001. The studio was capable of photographing anything from make-up to Apple products and he found the technical challenges as challenging as trying to get four musicians to pose for a group shot.
In this exhibition, Davies is committed to producing signed limited editions in small quantities, and he has made a conscious decision to set the entry price for his work at an affordable level.
Chalkie Davies Goes Click: 15 March – 26 April 2014 Snap Gallery London
Chalkie Davies will be at the London gallery from 2 pm onwards on the opening day of the exhibition, Saturday 15 March 2014
Photo: The Clash 1977 © Chalkie Davies 2014