Art | The Reconnoisseur

A fascinating photographic archive of swinging London

An expertly curated gallery in an unlikely location

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A fascinating photographic archive of swinging London

Image: © Philip Townsend, courtesy of Kate Cross, The Photographers Lounge

March 15 2011
Charlotte Abrahams

Swanage in Dorset is one of my most favourite places but even I must admit that when my husband and I decided we’d like to buy a couple of interesting photographs, this small English seaside town didn’t strike us the place to start looking.

We were wrong. The Photographers Lounge (second picture) is a small but expertly curated gallery dedicated entirely to interesting contemporary photography. We walked in, explained to owner Kate Cross that we were looking for something black and white, possibly abstract but definitely not sea-themed, and were presented with a collection of what are widely regarded as some of the most exciting and collectable images of 1960s London ever seen.

Quite how Cross came to be representing celebrated 1960s photographer Philip Townsend and his famously forgotten archive (the negatives went into the loft in 1970 and remained untouched for decades) is unclear, but represent him she does, and now we were in Swanage looking at a silver bromide record of swinging London in full swing.

There were The Rolling Stones outside an Earl’s Court pub; there were The Beatles in the London Meditation Centre with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; there was Frankie Howerd on a skateboard. Everything tempted, but we finally settled on a portrait of Alec Guinness in St Jean Cap Ferrat, dapperly attired in a crocheted skull cap, and an unguarded snapshot of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger at Olympic Studios (first picture).

Our framed and signed photographs cost £490 each for 16in x 12in framed images. Other sizes available.