exhibition archive

Sheila Rock: From Punk to the English Sea

28 September – 28 October 2016

exhibition info | press release | images | item list | reviews | private view | publication | invitation


Download Press Release as PDF


Private view: Tuesday 27 September, 6:00-8:30pm

CHELSEA space exhibition
Sheila Rock, ‘Jordan in doorway of Sex 1977’, digital print.
Photograph © Sheila Rock Photography

CHELSEA space is very happy to present the exhibition Sheila Rock: From Punk to the English Sea as its first exhibition in the autumn 2016 programme.

Many of the exhibitions celebrating the 40th anniversary of punk rock in 2016 have displayed a tendency towards depicting this movement as a largely testosterone fueled tribal youth culture. Reflective and knowledgeable of this subject, Sheila Rock’s photographs instead insist on a more sophisticated reading of her subjects, allowing and revealing a far more nuanced collection of portraits. By exploring her subjects outside of these established contexts, Rock has photographed some of the more gently subversive aspects of punk (sub) culture, through attire, environment and attitude.

Central to installation at CHELSEA space are a series of new portraits of the female punk icon, Jordan, commissioned especially for this exhibition. In the forty years since Sheila Rock first photographed Jordan both have developed and evolved; the new portraits are a powerful photographic statement of undiminished beauty and the empathy between photographer and subject.

Jordan is synonymous with Malcolm McLaren and Vivien Westwood’s shop SEX, however, her influence was far more wide reaching, as she inspired not only fashion, but was also the muse for artists including Derek Jarman. Her performance as Britannia in his 1977 feature film, Jubilee, and in the Super 8 films Jordan’s Dance (1977), Jordan’s Jubilee Mask, (1977), Every Woman For Herself and All for Art, (1978) and Jordan’s Wedding, (1981), illustrate her innate power and poise. Interviewed in the publication ‘England’s Dreaming’ by Jon Savage, Jordan states, ”I started ballet when I was about four and carried on until I was about eighteen. It gives you a sense of physical confidence when you’ve done a tight discipline like that. I liked to treat myself as a painting”.

Also accompanying the exhibition are a selection of recent photographic portraits from the series entitled Tough and Tender, that were made in seaside towns around England. Although initially interested in the aesthetics of seascapes when starting on this series, Rock’s dignified and stoic portraits reflect a quiet politics, documenting subjects and environments on the economic margins of the early 21st Century.

Sheila Rock came to the UK from America in 1970, and began a series of successful careers; firstly as a primary documenter of the punk era, then as a successful commercial photographer in advertising and editorial and more recently as the author of photographic books featuring works of her own private passions. The Face magazine launched her career, and she later contributed to a variety of diverse titles including German Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Architectural Digest, Sunday Times, Telegraph Magazine, Brides, Time Magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine. Her book PUNK +, published in 2013, is a document of the London 1970s punk scene that was also accompanied by a series of exhibitions in London, Paris and Berlin and later, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Jordan (Pamela Rooke) is from Seaford, East Sussex. She was a model and actress noted for her work with Vivienne Westwood and the SEX boutique in the Kings Road, London in the mid-1970s that formalised the punk movement in terms of its style and attitude. Manager of Adam and the Ants in 1977, Jordan also starred in various films made by Derek Jarman, including Jordan’s Dance (1977) and Jubilee (1978).

- Ends -

As with each exhibition at CHELSEA space, a new illustrated publication will accompany the show.

Press Information
For further information, images or to discuss interviews please contact: Karen Di Franco or Cherie Silver at CHELSEA space via email info@chelseaspace.org or tel: 020 7514 6983

Notes to Editors
Images and further information are available upon request
About: CHELSEA space is a public exhibiting space, sited on the Millbank campus of Chelsea College of Arts, where invited art and design professionals are encouraged to work on experimental curatorial projects. See: www.chelseaspace.org
• In copy please refer to CHELSEA space and not ‘The Chelsea space.’
Gallery opening times: Wednesday-Friday 11am-5pm and by appointment.
Private view: Tuesday 27 September, 6:00-8:30pm
Admission: FREE

Chelsea College of Arts is one of the world’s leading art and design institutions. Located at Millbank, next door to Tate Britain, Chelsea specialises in Fine Art, Graphic Design and Interior and Textiles Design. Since its origins in the 19th century, the College has produced many of the greatest names in the arts, including: Quentin Blake (illustrator and author) Ralph Fiennes (film and stage actor), AnishKapoor (sculptor), Steve McQueen, (artist), Chris Ofili (artist), Alan Rickman (film and stage actor), Alexei Sayle (comedian) and Gavin Turk (sculptor).

Operating at the heart of the world’s creative capital, University of the Arts London is a vibrant international centre for innovative teaching and research in arts, design, fashion, communication and the performing arts. The University is made up of six Colleges: Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Art. Renowned names in the cultural and creative sectors produced by the University include 12 Turner prize winners and over half of all nominees, 10 out of 17 fashion designers named British Designer of the Year, more than half of the designers showcased in London Fashion Week and 12 out of 30 winners of the Jerwood Photography Award.




Chelsea Arts Club Trust logo