In the spring of 1966, a British photographer embarked on a project to photograph the most beautiful women in the country. Birds of Britain, the seminal photographic book by John d Green celebrating the brilliant and beautiful women of the UK, was published the in 1967. Featuring models, society girls, singers, actresses and debutantes, Birds of Britain was a celebration of Swinging London’s movers and shakers and went on to become an immediate mainstream success selling 60,000 copies, 20 times the original print run. A US tour for John d Green and a selection of the ‘birds’ followed, with an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and even a single and the book went onto develop a cult following.
Some of the images in this unexpected and exciting collection caused controversy when originally published due to their quirky and outrageous style. They are, as Green says, "a truly British phenomena, the most fabulous "birds" who put Swinging London on the map." This was a glorious explosion of everything Sixties London represented to the rest of the world and Green captured its very essence in these stunning, often bizarre and beautiful images.
In October 2016, John d Green’s amazing photographs from his legendary, long out of print book Birds of Britain are to be exhibited for the first time. The photographer will also open up his untouched Birds of Britain archive, featuring some unseen images that are not included in the original book, for the exhibition at Snap Galleries in St James’s. The exhibition opening will be attended by a number of the original ‘birds’.
Birds of Britain stars Julie Christie, Dusty Springfield, Suzannah York, Mary Quant, Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Barry (Birkin) and Viviane Ventura. It features Sandra Paul, stylish model who later became wife of Michael Howard, Jane Asher, then girlfriend of Paul McCartney, Martine Bestwick star of two James Bond movies, Hayley Mills child star, actress & daughter of the late Sir John Mills. Fans of The Smiths will recognize the image of The Champions actress Alexandra Bastedo, which appeared on the cover of their album Rank. Pattie Boyd, former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton was the cover star of the original book.
It-girls of the day including Honorable Victoria Mills and Jacquetta Lampson are featured and darling of London society set Mary-Gaye Curzon, daughter of the 6th Earl Howe and now perhaps better known as the mother of Cressida Bonas, longstanding friend of Prince Harry, is photographed wearing only black engine oil in a startling high-octane photograph.
These black and white images capture the spirit of ‘Swinging London’, and pay tribute to a very special time and place and the "birds" who made it famous.
The Big Book of Birds of Britain, a sequel to John's 1967 classic Birds of Britain book, will be released in December, published by Ormond Yard Press. Published in a staggering large format limited edition, these individually numbered limited editions are signed by John d Green, contain many unseen photographs and promise "an entirely new species of bird" not seen in the original book.
John d Green made his first camera out of a Colman’s Mustard tin. A familiar face around town in the mid-Sixties and a successful photographer in the advertising industry, Green was also behind the famous Sloop John d, the floating nightclub restaurant club off Chelsea Bridge frequented by the beautiful people of Sixties London. Green started his photographic career with a six year apprenticeship at Central Art Studios in Kingly Street, Soho. By his fifth year he had photographed every female shop assistant in Regent Street and was allowed to use the studio in the evenings. One of Green’s clients encouraged him to set up his own photographic studio. He went on to shoot numerous successful ad campaigns for BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, Lotus and Rolls Royce, as well as Marlboro and Consulate. Green dreamt up the idea for Birds of Britain whilst sitting in the Adam and Eve pub in London with art director David Tree. He expected the project to take three months. It took 18. Birds of Britain was his one and only book and these photographs have never previously been exhibited. John d Green is available for interview.