Iain Macmillan Retrospective – Abbey Road, the Swinging 60’s, John & Yoko and Dundee
27th February until 3rd June 2010
Discovery Point Café Gallery, Discovery Quay, Dundee, DD1 4XA, Scotland [map]
Yoko says: “I am so glad that Iain is getting some recognition. He was an incredible photographer.”
From Dundee to Abbey Road
Dundee Heritage Trust is proud to announce that it will be staging the first ever major retrospective of the work of photographer Iain Macmillan.
It will be exhibited at Discovery Point for three months from Saturday 27th February until Thursday 3rd June 2010.
Iain, who died in 2006, is very much a forgotten son of Dundee who deserves to be more widely- known. His lack of fame is in part down to his being a very humble man who was incredibly modest about his achievements.
The private owner of the Iain Macmillan collection has collaborated with Dundee Heritage Trust in producing the show. In doing so he is fulfilling a promise he made to his late friend that he would arrange an exhibition of his work in his home town.
The exhibition will showcase the range of Iain’s work. It will consist of 5 themes –
• The Abbey Road images
• Iain’s work with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
• Portraits of various celebrities from the world of sport, acting and pop music including Stevie Wonder, Twiggy, Floyd Paterson, Maggie Smith
• An evocative series of Dundee in the late 1950s
• Iain’s own personal artistic photographic work.
The exhibition will also display some of the cameras Iain used to create these iconic images and a host of archives and objects reflecting his work and his dealings with people like Yoko Ono and Paul and Linda McCartney.
• Iain’s Hassleblad and Nikon cameras
• Invitations to events
• Christmas cards designed and sent by Yoko Ono
• Publications illustrated by Iain including art catalogues for Yoko Ono and books including The Young Meteors and The London Book.
• Photographs personalised and signed by Paul and Linda McCartney
• Record sleeves for Give Peace a Chance and Happy Xmas (War is Over) for which Iain took the photographs.
Iain Macmillan Biography
After leaving Dundee High School in 1954, Iain worked for Jute Industries, but loved photography and, in 1958, studied the subject professionally at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster). He returned home in 1959 to photograph Dundee tenements and street scenes – powerful images of a way of life about to disappear.
He graduated in the early 1960s and was soon working freelance for leading newspapers and magazines including the Sunday Times, the Illustrated London News, Tatler and Harpers & Queen which brought him into the world of the Swinging 60s in London.
He complied a series of photographs of life in the city for The Book of London (1966) which contains some of his best work, and which brought him to the attention of Yoko Ono, who commissioned him to photograph her exhibition at the Indica gallery, in St James’s. It was there that Yoko met John Lennon, who invited Macmillan to photograph the Abbey Road album cover.
Macmillan went on to work with Lennon and his second wife, Yoko Ono, on several of their projects. He photographed the clouds on Live Peace In Toronto (1969), by John and Yoko, and was also involved with Sometime in New York City (1972), having lived with them for a month the previous September. He also designed the cover for the couple’s single Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (1971), where he skillfully morphed photographs of John and Yoko together.
By the mid-1970s, Macmillan was teaching photography in Stoke-on-Trent.
In the 1980s his photographs were exhibited in galleries in Britain and the US, and on the continent. The BBC used his work in the series The Rock and Roll Years.
In the 1980s, after his parents died, Macmillan moved back to Carnoustie. He continued to take photographs of Scottish landscapes, his friends and their families – and his beloved collie dog, Mac.
In 1993 Paul McCartney invited Macmillan to take another picture on the famous zebra crossing near the EMI studios in St John’s Wood for the album cover of Paul is Live.
He worked with a number of musicians, including the Rolling Stones and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.
Iain sadly died in 2006.
Ten minutes to create one of the world’s most famous images….
It was 40 years ago that Iain Macmillan climbed up a ladder in the middle of Abbey Road and within the space of only ten minutes created one of the world’s most famous images. On August 8, 1969, Macmillan snapped six shots of the Beatles as they walked over the zebra crossing near the EMI Studios where the group did their recordings. One of the six photographs became famous as the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road LP. To this day, the image remains one of popular music’s best known and most widely imitated photographs.
The exhibition will showcase together for what we believe is the first time all six of the original photographs, giving visitors the unique chance to compare them and to see why that particular shot was chosen for the album cover (the only one with their legs in perfect formation).
In 1993 Paul McCartney invited Macmillan to return to Abbey Road to take the cover for the “Paul Is Live” album. Iain parodied his Abbey Road picture, this time of the Beatle and his Old English sheepdog. Macmillan contrasted the simplicity of the earlier picture by including a team of policemen, press photographers and a lively crowd.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Iain compiled a series of photographs of life in the city for The Book of London (1966) and this brought him to the attention of Yoko Ono, who commissioned him to photograph her exhibition at the Indica gallery, in St James’s. It was there that Yoko met John Lennon, who invited Macmillan to photograph the Abbey Road album cover.
Macmillan went on to work with Lennon and Yoko Ono, on several of their projects. He photographed the clouds on Live Peace In Toronto (1969), by John and Yoko, and was also involved with Sometime in New York City (1972), having lived with them for a month the previous September. He also designed the cover for the couple’s single Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (1971), where he skillfully morphed photographs of John and Yoko together.
He also collaborated on the film Erection, an animation of shots of a London hotel under construction with a soundtrack by John and Yoko. In New York, he photographed much of Yoko’s avant-garde work, including Flies, when a bell jar of flies was released and the locations where they were supposed to land were shot.
Portraits of Celebrities
Due to commissions from most of the leading newspapers and magazines such as Tatler, the Sunday Times, Harpers & Queen Iain took portraits of celebrities from the worlds of sport, art, politics, acting and pop music. Examples include Pete Townshend of The Who, Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Twiggy, Floyd Paterson, Bridget Riley, Maggie Smith and Donald Sutherland to name but a few.
Some of these photographs were used to illustrate the 1967 book ‘The Young Meteors: an Inside Report on the Rising Stars of London in Fashion, Entertainment, Modeling, Art, Politics, Journalism’ by Jonathan Aitken.
• Bridget Riley, artist
• World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Floyd Patterson
• Stevie Wonder
• A 16 year old Twiggy and her then manager/boyfriend Justin de Villeneuve.
Dundee in the late 1950s
Iain returned home to Dundee in 1959 to photograph tenements and street scenes – powerful images of a way of life about to disappear. From games in the street to the ‘scrammie’ at a church wedding where children scrabble for thrown coins to evocative images of buildings, these images cannot fail to strike a chord.
Iain produced an incredibly diverse portfolio of work. Some of his most arresting photographs were produced for his own interest from his own unique artistic viewpoint. From images of the swinging 60s in Carnaby Street to circus performers to workers in the City of London… through morning mist underwriters arrive at Lloyds of London.