22nd September - 26th November
Closed between 2nd-7th November and from 1pm on 23rd November
Surrounded by the international wealth of Mayfair, St. James's and Fitzrovia, Soho was a dark labyrinth of alleys populated by seedy clubs, neighbourhood cafes and intimate music venues. Intrinsically linked with sex, fashion and music, its streets and bars were the haunt of gangsters, prostitutes, pimps, artists, musicians, writers and revellers alike. The area's bohemian character attracted anybody who dared to venture in whatever their predilection, making it one of the capital's most risqué and best-loved hangouts. Venues such as the Windmill Club, The Raymond Revue Bar, Cy Laurie’s Jazz Club and the Marquee Club attracted the likes of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones to name but a few.
The exhibition stemmed from the discovery of an original glass plate negative taken in 1910 entitled 'The Smallest Shop'. The image shows a space six feet long, five feet high and two feet deep, occupied by a cobbler, at 4 Bateman Street in the heart of Soho. Curiosity piqued, researchers at Getty Images Gallery began a year-long project to mine their archives for more images which would reveal the history of this much-loved area, uncovering rare photographs of The Windmill Theatre and The Raymond Revue bar.
Delving into the murky depths of Soho's past, the viewer is taken on a fascinating tour down narrow streets and pavements bustling with nightlife. We take furtive glances into basement clubs, corner cafes and tiny shops where we meet the diverse faces who helped establish Soho as one of London’s best-loved villages. The exhibition illustrates the importance of preserving the area's rich architectural and cultural history into the future.