Page last updated at 02:02 GMT, Saturday, 27 February 2010

Photographer Iain Macmillan's iconic work displayed

Children "scramming" for coins in 1950s Dundee
Iain Macmillan shot a major series of photographs in Dundee in 1959

By Christopher Sleight
Tayside reporter, BBC Scotland news website

The first major retrospective of Dundee-born photographer Iain Macmillan has gone on display in his home city.

The photographer bequeathed all his work to a friend in the hope he would arrange such an exhibition.

Macmillan, who died in 2006, is best known for a handful of images including portraits of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Most famously, he photographed the Beatles in 1969 for the front cover of their album Abbey Road, taken during a 10-minute break from the nearby studio.

Macmillan was fully immersed in the celebrity world during the late 1960s and early 70s, even living with Lennon and Ono for a while.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Many of Macmillan's celebrity portraits are instantly recognisable

During this period he snapped hundreds of shots of musicians and models, including The Who guitarist Peter Townshend, model Twiggy and a 16-year-old soul singer Stevie Wonder.

But Gill Poulter, a director at Dundee Heritage Trust who helped organise the exhibition, said these pictures only represented a small portion of his work.

"The exhibition we've hung contains about 40 images," she said.

"There's probably half a dozen in there that are incredibly famous. Pictures that have been everywhere - really iconic.

"But there's another body of work that shows the huge depth of range Iain had."

Among those are a series of photographs shot in Dundee in 1959.

The photographer was born in the city in 1938 and returned to Scotland after his parents died, to live in Carnoustie, Angus. He died of lung cancer aged 67.

Ms Poulter said many of the social documentary photographs taken in Dundee showed a "great sense of movement and composition".

She said: "There's a really nice image of the 'pletties' as they're known in Dundee - the outside platforms on tenements.

Office workers in London
Macmillan shot hundreds of images for The Book of London

"There are two woman seated on these railings having a blether and below there's a woman hanging out washing.

"They're obviously unaware of him and it's a lovely captive moment."

Another image from the series shows a group of children "scramming" for coins tossed to them after a wedding in one of Dundee's churches.

Macmillan also shot hundreds of images for a series published in The Book of London, which covered every aspect of city life.

Ms Poulter believes these photographs are not just art, but have an important historical role as well.

She said: "The Dundee images were taking in 1959. A lot of tenement blocks were demolished in Dundee in the 60s and 70s in the name of slum clearance, and people moved to estates.

"He was documenting a way of life that was about to disappear," she said.

The exhibition runs until 3 June.

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