If you are in London over the coming weeks with a few hours to spare, that time would be well spent by taking a trip to a retrospective exhibition of the work of John Reardon, entitled (After) Whistlejacket, at the MMX Gallery.
Reardon, who died in 2018, was a revered photographer and picture editor of the Observer, but this exhibition covers some of the work undertaken in the later years of his life when commissioned by his former colleague Jocelyn Targett to photograph the Darley stallions.
This is stallion marketing reimagined. Reardon's collaboration on the project, which would last for 16 years, came at a time when the Darley operation was expanding globally, looking to make an impact across the Thoroughbred industry. That it did, through Reardon's use of medium-format cameras and monochrome, his images featuring in lavishly produced brochures and head-turning advertising, both in print and on the racecourse.
In an accompanying essay by Targett, he says of his old friend, whose work prior to the equine sphere ranged from war zones to celebrities, “Racehorses, and the people in their realm, turned out to be his ideal subjects. Reardon's eye found the elegance, power, and plaintive vulnerability of whatever settled before his camera, and the thoroughbred is abound with elegance, power and vulnerability.”
The exhibition, in New Cross in south-east London, runs until July 1.