Richard Simpkin. Ever-evolving celebrity culture featuring everyone from Audrey Hepburn, Nelson Mandela, Johnny Cash & The Dalai Lama to Michael Jackson, U2, INXS, Lady GaGa & Taylor Swift.
Richard Simpkin has been examining our ever-evolving celebrity culture and raising questions about identity, social boundaries and the passage of time for twenty-five consecutive years.
What began for Simpkin as an adolescent urge to photograph himself with celebrities developed into a lifelong project that has resulted in a vast collection of over 4,000 images, a wealth of anecdotes and a unique, multi-faceted self-portrait. His meticulously collected images chart the fashions and faces of countless stars from the worlds of music, film, sports and politics.
As the series progresses and Simpkin matures against a backdrop of a changing world. We see some of the world’s most recognisable celebrities spontaneously posing, revealing something of what lies behind their highly controlled public images.
Today, everyone is taking photos on their phones & other devices. The Richard & Famous exhibition started long before the invention of camera phones. It captures the innocence between fan & celebrity that today has been lost. Although most people these days have a photo or two taken with a celebrity, it is hard to deny that Richard Simpkin has achieved a remarkable feat and now has one of the most fascinating self-portrait exhibitions in the world today.
“Richard Simpkin’s work is a true revelation. Obsessively having his photo taken with the celebrities of the world, he shows them almost to be puppets in his own game of charades. Knowing how difficult it is to get access to celebrities in this day and age, it is an awesome achievement, and turns his whole game into a compelling piece of art.” Martin Parr.
For 25 consecutive years (1989 – 2013) Richard Simpkin worked on a photographic exhibition titled Richard & Famous. During those 25 years, he met everyone from Audrey Hepburn, Nelson Mandela, Johnny Cash & The Dalai Lama to Michael Jackson, U2, INXS, Lady GaGa & Taylor Swift. For his book, Australian Legends, he spent 17 years meeting, photographing & interviewing 100 prominent Australians. Some of the legends that feature in the books are Sir Don Bradman, Nora Heysen, Frank Lowy & the last of our WWI Diggers. In 2014 he founded World Letter Writing Day & now teaches school children throughout Australia to write handwritten letters & encourages the students to take a break from social media.
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