Born in the East End of London in 1932, Eric Swayne hit the scene in London just as Duffy, Bailey and Donovan were redefining the aesthetics and conventions of photography. His early friendship with Duffy (who photographed him on the back stairs of Vogue House in 1961) opened his eyes to all that was happening in London at this pivotal moment. He quickly became a face on the scene, met everyone, and seized the opportunity to pursue a life-long passion for photography. With no formal training, not even the apprenticeship of assisting a photographer, he somehow knew that what was going on around him was unique, exciting, and never to be repeated. Picking up a camera for the first time at the age of 29, he began photographing his circle of friends, including Bailey, Donovan, and several of the actors, models and stars on London’s unique scene of the 60s. Keith, Mick, Ossie Clark or Mary Quant would pop in to his studio in north London, where he would photograph them in his typical, informal style, capturing from the inside what was to become a defining moment in the world’s cultural development.
In 1966 Bailey asked him to play the lead in his film ‘G.G. Passion’ opposite Chrissie Shrimpton, as a last-minute favour after Mick Jagger dropped out. The film was produced by Roman Polanski, who Eric already knew socially, and had photographed with Catherine Deneuve during the making of his film ‘Repulsion’ in 1964. By now he was shooting for Italian Vogue, Queen, and Vanity Fair but he never stopped snapping his friends, either at work or at play. A weekend at Keith Richard’s cottage in West Wittering, Ossie Clark preparing a show at Quorum, Bailey shooting Deneuve on location in Normandy, or Mary Quant sketching at home, his camera was always at the ready. Eric Swayne’s fresh, reportage style and open access to the iconic faces of the time, many of whom were friends, explains this body of personal work that eloquently evokes the freshness, innocence and hope of that unique time, capturing so many legends just at that precious moment when, unbeknownst to them, they were truly on the cusp of greatness.