Documentary photography, ‘Rock Steady’
By Ken Russell
London, U.K. 1955
Signed silver gelatin print
Limited Edition of 25
Paper size 20h x 16w inches
Elsie and Rose Hendon with Mary Toovey and Jean Rayner in London on an East End bombsite. Among Ken Russell’s most famous work from this period is ‘The Last of the Teddy Girls’, a series of photos documenting London’s girl gang subculture and their male counterparts. Russell was attracted to these young women for their sense of independence and style—dressing in suits, land army clothes—while rejecting society’s expectations of more traditional, feminine roles. Teddy kids of either sex were known for fights breaking out wherever they congregated. The images show Russell’s innate talent for composition and offer a fascinating look into a rarely documented female subculture. ‘No one paid much attention to the teddy girls before I did them, though there was plenty on teddy boys. They were tough, these kids, they’d been born in the war years… they knew their worth. They just wore what they wore.’ Ken Russell
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