Most photos of Bob Marley capture him on stage, guitar and microphone in hand, but gorgeous, grainy, off-duty photos of the Jamaican reggae icon from 1973 are on view in London’s Dadiani Fine Art until the end of this week.
Bob Marley: A Rebel Prophet, an exhibition by Esther Anderson – a Jamaican photographer and filmmaker who befriended Marley before his rise to fame – shows portraits he took of the singer pre-stardom in Kingston, at the beach, on the streets, at home. They were the images used as publicity photos to launch Marley’s career with Island Records.
“My work is not pandering to those who know Bob Marley as a music icon,” said Anderson, 70, who found a kindred spirit in Marley when they first met in 1972. “My photographs reveal Marley beyond the bounds of a musician, as the messenger who could reach out to a global audience, a poet of past and future.”
They capture his spirit as a freewheeling street poet in his crochet rasta cap, at peace with his hands in prayer and running down a beach under a cloudy sunset. One portrait shows Marley smoking a spliff, which adorns the cover of his Catch A Fire album, was more than just a marketing tool. “For the people, it was an emblem of amnesty and freedom,” said Anderson. “Long live the power of the image, that’s what the photographs have for me.”
Bob Marley: A Rebel Prophet, photos by Ether Anderson at Dadiani Fine Art in London until 16th January. dadianifineart.com