Kings Cross today looks very different to how it once did. In the wake of the Vietnam War, dingy lighting, dive bars, prostitution and a myriad of strip-clubs were the main attractions, resulting in a time of hustle, bustle, crime and excitement for any who entered.
Melbourne-born photographer, Rennie Ellis, found himself in the right place at the right time. His current exhibition at Woollahra’s Mossgreen Gallery, Kings Cross 1970-1971: Rennie Ellis, documents wild times in the Cross, suggesting a world unrecognisable to what we see today.
Manuela Furci of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive was a close friend of his for more than 20 years, and worked as his personal assistant for a decade. “It was very important to ensure that Rennie's body of work was not lost – that it was brought back to life for people to see,” says Furci.
The exhibition is curated by theme. One section focuses on the outrageous fashion icons who once roamed the streets, from The Bee Gees kicking back in a luxurious apartment to Carlotta, The Queen of the Cross, and Rosaleen Norton (famously known on the street for her witchcraft.) Other familiar faces include artist Martin Sharp lurking in the Yellow House Gallery, where Ellis first exhibited this body of work in 1971. Another section explores the grimy, backstage reality of various nightlife spots.
When the show opened last week, several visitors were met with the surprise of recognising some of the faces within the photographs, more than 40 years later.
The exhibition will remain open until June 2.