Celebrity-hunter turned photographer launches star-filled exhibition

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

'Richard and Famous' takes a critical look at the cult of celebrity.

A man whose childhood obsession with celebrities turned into a life-long photography project, taking him all over the world, will have excerpts from his collection of over 1000 celebrity snapshots displayed in a gallery this week in an exhibition curated by the Magnum photographer Martin Parr.

The Open Eye Gallery, in Liverpool, will host the exhibition, entitled Richard and Famous, after the photographer Richard Simpkin's extensive collection of photos of himself posing with different celebrities. The collection spans three decades of celebrity culture, from 1989 to the present day.

The project has led Simpkin to travel across the world meeting celebrities and he even became an official band photographer along the way.

When Simpkin, who lives in Sydney, was just 15, he used to collect autographs until his friend showed him a picture of her father taken with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Central Park in New York. "I saw the photo and I thought, ‘I want to get my photo taken with people that go down in history. I went out and bought a $90-camera and got started."

His first two photos were taken with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Boris Becker. "When I was a kid it was a great thrill to be close to celebrities. I would go down to a hotel in Sydney where all the famous people stayed. You could see Bon Jovi, Kylie Minogue – everyone. I'd take my photos to school and all the other kids would crowd round and be asking who's Richard met this week?"

Simpkin has since captured the images of celebrities from the worlds of music, film, sports and politics, from Audrey Hepburn to Michael Jackson, the Dalai Lama to Nelson Mandela.

At 16 he left school and became a photographer for Michael Hutchence, the Australian musician and lead singer-songwriter of rock band INXS, after a chance encounter hanging around his studio during the school summer holidays. "He's the most charismatic person I ever met. He took me under his wing and there I was doing photo shoots with him — this kid with a camera getting him to do all different poses...He helped me out. He'd say ‘Helmet Newton does it this way' or explain the importance of lighting."

Simpkin spent eight years touring with Hutchence and they remained friends until his death. "I had breakfast with him and his dad in 1997 and his dad wanted to get a photo with the two of us together. Two days' later I found out he had killed himself in a hotel, so the last photo of Michael Hutchins alive was with me."

500 images from Simpkin's total collection of over 1000 celebrity snaps will be on display at the gallery, including a selection from his time working with Hutchence and a video interview he made with the INXS singer.

Simpkin has lived in the US and London to in order to add to his collection and has even gone "under-cover" in search of a photo. "Michael Jackson came to town in and every person in Australia knew where he was staying, I knew I needed to outsmart them, so I put on a casual suit and took a briefcase with my laptop. Everyone else was screaming and crying outside the hotel, but I was undercover so to speak. I was playing it cool. I went up and waited and worked on my laptop in the hallway, and when Jackson emerged I walked calmly over and asked him for a photo."

Next year, the project will be in its 25th year, and Simpkin plans to "retire" from taking the photos. "You can meet the who's who, and of course it's a great challenge, but I'm disillusioned. I'm not obsessed with celebrity. When I was younger, the ones I idolised were the ones with genuine Hollywood glamour. Now it's plastic celebrities that will dissolve in the future."

Richard Simpkin's work will be on display alongside LA-based photographer Simone Lueck who posted an advert online, inviting older women to pose for her in the guise of their favourite film star. Running concurrently to the main exhibition, Open Eye Gallery also hosts the archive exhibition Painted Photographs, featuring celebrity photographs from the personal collection of the photographer Martin Parr, who has also curated the Richard and Famous exhibition.

Parr, who is known for turning a critical eye on modern culture, said of Simpkin's work "Obsessively having his photo taken with the celebrities of the world, [Simpkin] 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."

Richard and Famous is at the Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, from 13 January to 18 March 2012.

www.openeye.org.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
artVoted for by the public, artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried