20 February 2018

Bailey’s Stardust: from London to Eastern Sudan

David Bailey's exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

David Bailey’s exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

David Bailey is a prominent English photographer. He captures through his camera lens stories from each corner of the world. One of the most amazing aspects of Bailey’s photography techniques is his ability to take one snap shot, a risky technique only mastered by a few.

60 years of trial and tribulation has been exhibited before visitors in the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in the vibrant city of London. His first show at NPG was in 1971. The second time was in 2009, where he held an exhibit titled Beatles to Bowie.

This time he bares it all. He picked the fruits of his labour in an exhibit carrying his name – Bailey’s Stardust. The portraits were spread over several rooms, each one held its own in terms of art, expression and message.

One of David Bailey's photos in Sudan.

One of David Bailey’s photos in Sudan.

“I couldn’t believe that his hand was as big as a baby and covered in flies” Bailey describing a scene in Sudan.

“In the autumn of 1984 the disastrous famine in Ethiopia was widely reported on British television. Caused by civil war, sustained drought and a series of poor harvests, the death toll was estimated at 200,000 people and it was thought that 900,000 would die by the end of the year. Shocked by the scale of the emergency and the reluctance of Western

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governments to take action, pop musicians led by Midge Ure and Bob Geldof collaborated to form Band Aid and record the single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ to raise funds for the relief effort”, said the caption on the photo.

“Thousands of Ethiopian refugees fled to neighbouring Sudan at a rate of about 2,000 per day. Bailey offered to help Band Aid to raise public awareness of the famine and, taking no fee for his work, flew to the region to photograph conditions in the refugee camps on the Ethiopian/Sudanese border. In 1985 the resulting images were exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and published as Imagine: A Book for Band Aid 1985.”

Bailey’s Stardust layout consists of several rooms exhibiting portraits under the following subjects (in alphabetical order): Aboriginals, Andy and Dali, Artists, Black and White Icons, Box of Pin-ups, Catherine Bailey (his wife), Delhi, Democracy, East End, Fashion Icons and Beauty, Hard Men, Naga Hills, Papua New Guinea, Revolution, The Rolling Stones, Skulls, and Sudan.

He travelled to the border to capture the unbearable conditions at which the Ethiopian refugees were living under. His camera shots shook the world. His work was integral for the success of Band Aid. It exposed the sheer level of humanitarian catastrophe. His images captured the emotional aspect of a human being under extreme hardship, loss of children, malnutrition etc. He said, “I have learned a lot from my experience in The Sudanese-Ethiopian borders”.

Leaping forward to the end of the first quarter of 2014, Sudan has become an isolated state, under a repressive regime, lead by an international criminal court ICC indictee, president Omer El-Bashir. 30 years after Bailey’s visit, where Sudan was playing a host for refugees from neighbouring Ethiopia, the current regime committed gruesome crimes that yielded in 100’s of Sudanese refugee camps scattered in and beyond Sudan’s neighbouring countries!

Bailey's stardust (after last paragraph)

The exhibit is held at the National Portrait Gallery, London from February 1st to June 1st 2014.

Ref: http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/bailey/exhibition/rooms.php

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