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Chalkie Davies—piecing together an intimate image of music’s icons

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Issue 2462

When music photographer Chalkie Davies left for the US in 1985, he locked away his portfolio.

Davies made his name as a photographer for the NME music paper, but most of the images in the portfolio had never been published. 

Now we’re finally able to see a selection of the 43,000 negatives in the National Museum’s new exhibition. 

Davies photographed David Bowie’s last Ziggy Stardust show in 1973.

The exhibition isn’t just for those interested in 1970s music. 

It’s an interesting snapshot at how “celebrity” is captured and presented.

What’s impressive here is the way Davies focuses on intimate, seemingly everyday settings.

He wanted to show the musicians relaxed, without their celebrity persona. The result can be captivating, with images of that draw you in. 

Yet the shots were actually all contrived, which does sometimes come through. 

So we see singer Chrissie Hynde on a fairground carousel. 

The photos of punk band The Clash seem more “authentic”—but perhaps both are false.

Chalkie Davies: the NME years
National Museum Cardiff, CF10 3NP. 
Free entry.
Until 6 September. 

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