Pete Williams

Sep 23, 2015 | All, News | 0 comments


‘Photographic Show’

Exhibited December 2012


Pete first trained in Plymouth as an architect where he became consumed by modernism, focusing on Gropius, Bauhaus, Le Corbusier and Rossi.   As time progressed other influences began to take shape in Pete’s life, adding craft and colour to his work. Living in Newcastle with its powerful industrial past evident all around him, he began to document this industry and history on the streets opening the magical door to photography.

Following his love of cinematic art films Pete then began a fascination with independent film.   These fabulous influences shaped an extraordinary two years of study at the Royal College of Art where he was able to experiment without boundaries exploring pure artistic thought where he combined photography, film, music and animation.

African rhythms came next to accompany the short films he was involved with and this naturally led him on to jazz. Pete has photographed greats such as Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Don Cherry and Max Roach to name but a few.

Pete still shoots film, producing negatives that he then uses to make silver gelatin prints, which are produced using a 19th century wet chemical process. They are then selenium toned for stability and mounted using acid free museum and conservation boards with window apertures.

Courtney Pine
La Prison Club, London 1988

“A dark and moody dive in Stoke Newington, winter. Courtney is late, impossible traffic chaos and I’m jammed into the corner of the tiny stage, camera ready and the Mondesir brothers are playing to an increasingly hostile crowd. Eventually Courtney arrives, car breakdown. He’s noticeably bothered at making people wait. He jumps up onto the stage, he doesn’t even take his coat off but rips the soprano out of its battered case and suddenly beautiful music fills the club, calming the crowd and softening the edge.”

Pete Williams

Herbie Hancock
Mayfair Hotel, London 1994

“The previous day I had got stuck into a furious argument with Herbie over a sound check photo misunderstanding. He didn’t know that I was taking the record label portrait of him the next day.
At the hotel I was dragged into the bar by the fun loving AR girl for a fierce Bloody Mary. I then walked into his room. It was completely full of people and Herbie shouted out, “Oh man, it’s You!” I said “Yes” and proceeded to throw everyone out, at which point Herbie then yelled, “Oh man, what’s your problem?” I said, “Why don’t you tell me about ‘Blow Up?”. We got talking about Antonioni’s film and the music that Herbie wrote for it.
It was the London swinging sixties, centre of the universe. Herbie and Antonioni regularly had breakfast in a Soho café where the film maker would eulogise about the greatness of London culture and then lament the dreadful food. “Man that Italian dude was wild”. From that moment the previous days hostilities disappeared and I managed to get this picture.”

Pete Williams

Nina Simone
Barbican, London 1997

The atmosphere is brooding, dark, mesmeric, unsettling and powerful. Nina Simone, so charismatic. I turned on a couple of table lamps and she said, “You may take my picture now, young man”.

Pete Williams

Chris Bowden
Rotherhithe, London 1999

“Incredible saxophone player. A true great, this shot was taken at such an exciting time with the London music scene so diverse and experimental. I’d met Chris down at Bar Rumba in the early days of the ‘That’s how it is’ sessions with live music when I documented the first six months of the club run by Janine Neye with Giles Peterson and Patrick Forge at the decks. Chris played live a few times and I always thought that the atmosphere on those Monday nights was probably similar to the Bebop scene in New York in the early forties. This picture was taken as part of the Freedom Principle tour to Japan. We shot it in Rotherhithe near the Thames. With its dark moody past the location helped produce the atmosphere leading to this picture. Shot on beautiful Polaroid negative film, sadly no longer made.”

Pete Williams

IDJ Jerry
The old Yugoslavian Embassy. Kensington, London 1988

“It’s 1988, the rave scene has exploded and the summer of love is on us. I get the chance to set a mood for my first ‘Straight No Chaser’ shoot and use the baroque elegance of the ex-embassy building on Kensington Gore to capture extraordinary Jazz dancers, The Brothers in Jazz and IDJ Jerry. Exploding energy. Un-containable brilliance. The space becomes a theatre, a set of shapes and patterns that gets explored with an intensity and power that creates such dazzling beauty. The building pumps and shakes and Jerry spirals over a checked marble floor.”

Pete Williams

Miles Davis
Royal Festival Hall, London 1989

“It was an early job for the mag. The brief was to get something more than the up the nose shot. Difficult as RFH policy was front centre of stage and two tunes only for press. Nobody had been granted an interview, so the live photo was all anyone would get.
I arrived late, met a young and nervous stage manager, who asked me to stand in the wings of the stage as it was pandemonium down at the front. An incredible decision and totally against policy.
Hidden from view, with only a Steinway for company, I watched Miles walk on stage and start playing. At this time I had little knowledge of his stage choreography in that he would often perform with his back or profile to the audience. On this occasion he spent the entire gig in profile to the audience, staring straight into the wings where I stood.
I rested on the grand using the reflection of the closed polished lid to create a hovering composition, shot a roll of film, put down the camera and watched a wonderful icon play.”

Pete Wiliams

David Byrne
Soho, London 1998

“Is that a fisheye lens?” enquires DB. “Pretty much” I say. “Oh great!” he says and immediately moves about the enclosed space as a dancer creating his own choreography. I follow him capturing his extreme movements, until he slows and stops. I take this shot. Later at the gig, I give him a metre long contact print, with all his moves on film. “Wild” he says.

Pete Williams

Roni Size and DJ Krust
Bristol Docks, 2001

“Why are you in such a bad mood, Roni?”
“We won a Mercury with the last album. The press had us on all the covers. Now no one is interested and even SNC is not putting us on the cover”. He had a point. I said “But often editor Paul Bradshaw changes his mind about covers”. The following night we all went to the gig at the Fridge in Brixton. Incredible, no wonder they got a Mercury.
Paul put him on the cover!

Pete Williams

Andy Sheppard and John Parracelli
Hotwells, Bristol 2003

“John, the sweetest of guys was a little shocked by this image with him looking moody and tough but I like the feel of it.
A cold steely blue sky day in Bristol, two great musicians and a Fiat Dino Coupe, same as the black version used by the mafia boss in the original ‘Italian Job’.
I had no intension of making it all look like a Sweeney shoot but it just turned out that way.”

Pete Williams

Africa I

“This is a piece that I made from a shoot at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records, for the cover of the Pan African Orchestra’s Opus 1 release. There were twenty five musicians in all, too many for a single composition, so I set up a temporary studio in a derelict barn in the beautiful studio grounds and photographed everyone individually, producing a powerful set of portraits that then became the basis for the CD sleeve artwork. After I returned from an assignment in South Africa in the winter of 1994, I wanted to make a work that somehow captured an element of my experience there and of the wonder and resilience of the people I met. I selected four images from the shoot at Real World and made this work.”

Pete Williams
Share This