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28 October 2014

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You are in: Manchester > Entertainment > Music > News and Interviews > Wilson: a portrait

Wilson: a portrait

Tony Wilson always believed that London should take its lead from Manchester. Now a photograph taken more than 20 years ago in the Haçienda is taking centre stage in the capital at the National Portrait Gallery. Find out more:

Anthony Wilson [photo by Kevin Cummins]

Anthony Wilson [photo by Kevin Cummins]

The picture shows the broadcaster and co-founder of Factory Records inside the world famous nightclub he opened and that changed Manchester forever.

It was taken on 10 May 1985 by photographer Kevin Cummins for a City Life feature about The Haçienda three years into its life, and appeared on the front cover.

But when Kevin recently submitted the image to the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), it was decided that it would be their December Portrait of the Month.


Andrew Melchior, Kevin Cummins’ agent and friend of Anthony Wilson said it was a poignant image:

"It was in the early years of the Haçienda and it captures the essence of Tony standing behind a pillar surrounded by the industrial design that Peter Saville created, avoiding the limelight, yet always at the heart of everything.

"It captures the essence of Tony standing behind a pillar... avoiding the limelight, yet always at the heart of everything"

Andrew Melchior, Kevin Cummins agent

"Tony was passionate about Manchester and he helped to light the careers of so many artists and musicians and DJs. It’s our way of paying our respects and ennobling him at the end of a year which sadly saw his passing."

Terence Pepper, the NPG’s Curator of Photographs said it was a fine portrait of someone who had championed the arts in England:

"Tony Wilson was a major figure in the UK music scene and it was important for us, as a national institution, to acquire a portrait of him for our collection. Kevin’s portrait is ideal as it shows him in the Haçienda at a time when his entrepreneurial powers were at their height."

Charity sale

Anthony Wilson was treated at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and Manchester’s Christie Hospital for the kidney cancer which eventually overcame him in August 2007.

Thirty limited edition prints of the portrait will be sold on behalf of Christie's Cancer Care and the MRI’s 'Kidneys for Life' charity.

Kevin Cummins became one of the prime photographers of the Manchester music scene in the late 1970s and for ten years was the chief photographer for NME.

He has contributed to major publications including The Times, Vogue and Mojo and is currently working on a photographic retrospective of Manchester musicians to be published by Faber & Faber in 2008.

His portrait of the late Anthony Wilson goes on display in the NPG’s Contemporary Galleries from Monday 3 December.

last updated: 30/11/07

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