Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Click on each of the above images for more clarity.

Anyone who was around in the early Sixties would have known of the Shrimp; especially if they lived in London; especially if they were also a photographer with a studio central to much of what was happening.

It has been suggested I create a portrait of the Shrimp by an old friend from my studio days. I had a glance at what other people had attempted by way of portraiture and felt something was absent. Either their drawing was a carbon copy of an already published photograph (see below), or it lacked the mood of the Sixties and the subject became like any other sitter. The Shrimp was not like any other model. She was the Kate Moss of her day. She was stunning, small and of the time. She was the first ... and the last. We will never see anyone like her again.

My first three portraits (top of page) are impressions (after the passing of over half a century since David Bailey captured her so brilliantly through his lens) of how the Shrimp looks now. She was mostly photographed with a fringe, which decided me to portray her without one in all my paintings. The fourth portrait of the Shrimp shows her in her famous black dress (penultimate photograph at the foot of the page) and is inspired by her iconic Sixties' image.

She was also described as having the "world's most beautiful face." She was dubbed "The It Girl", "The Face", "The Face of the Moment", and "The Face of the Sixties." Glamour named her "Model of The Year" in June 1963. She contrasted with the aristocratic-looking models of the Fifties by representing the coltish, gamine look of the youth movement in Sixties Swinging London, and she was reported as "the symbol of Swinging London." By breaking the popular mould of voluptuous figures with her long legs and slim figure, she was nicknamed "The Shrimp." Jean Shrimpton (born 7 November 1942) was also known for her long hair, usually  with a fringe, wide doe-eyes, long wispy eyelashes, arched brows, and pouting lips.

Click on this picture for more clarity.

Today the Shrimp is grey-haired, prim and almost severe. It is perhaps hard to imagine that this is the woman who epitomised the Swinging Sixties in London, and introduced the miniskirt to the masses.

Jean Shrimpton, half a century since her hey-day as probably the first supermodel, now resides in Cornwall where she has lived as a virtual recluse with her husband since quitting the fashion industry more than thirty years ago.

She has always been honest about loathing the ageing process, saying: "I lie in bed sometimes and think 'ugh,' I don’t like my looks at all." 

After marrying photographer Michael Cox in 1979, the pair had a son, Thaddeus, who now manages the hotel bought by the Shrimp when she turned her back on the bright lights of London.

She said recently: "I am a melancholy soul. I’m not sure contentment is obtainable and I find the banality of modern life terrifying. I sometimes feel I’m damaged goods."