William Burroughs' London

17 May 2018 – 1 Jun 2018

Event times

Monday to Friday : 10am - 8pm
Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday Closed

Cost of entry


Westminster Reference Library

England, United Kingdom

Travel Information

  • Tube: Charing X / Leicester Square

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A visual portrait of the late, great Beat writer, artist and provocateur WILLIAM S.BURROUGHS' London life curated by X-RAY AUDIO's Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield withBarry Miles.


WILLIAM BURROUGHS moved to London in the winter of 1959-60 in order to be near his boyfriend, Ian Sommerville, who was finishing his studies at Cambridge University. He lived in London, on-and-off, until 1974, at first in a series of hotels, and from 1967, in Duke St. St. James’s, in Mayfair. 

He used photography as tool: by taking pictures of view from his window he saw the rooftops anew each day. He took multiple photographs of friends and random people to assemble visual composites in his mind that he could use to create characters in his writing. He made photographic montages from pictures of his family, partners and friends, photographed them, then re-arranged them: each montage having a different emotional value according to the placement and dominance of the different elements. 

The pictures were not stuck down like traditional collages, they only existed in the photographs. He inadvertently broke the rules and created new methodologies in his pursuit of ways of freezing his emotional and creative responses to different stimuli and situations. These photographs were given to his friend BARRY MILES when Burroughs moved back to the USA in 1974. Burroughs’ photographs are supported and contextualised by photographs that Miles took of him in the years 1972-4 that are also on display.

A small selection of limited edition prints signed by Miles will be available to order.

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