‘Legendary feats woven into tales are often regarded as plausible history because of the human vulnerability of the heroes,‘ photographer Rich Hendry elucidates ‘and in exploring what makes a ‘Legend’ I have drawn influences from Greek mythology, comic book heroes, folklore and military bravado. However each of the subjects of my portraits also has their own personal story to tell, which I try to immortalise through the camera…’

As he tells us about the impressive portraits which stare majestically at us from the walls of trendy Shoreditch art space The Great Eastern Bear on the exhibition’s opening night he adopts a narrative pose in one of the gallery’s worn leather armchairs. With a celebratory glass of champagne in one hand, he continues to elaborate on his work.

‘My subjects here are a mixture of real people and unconventional models. One of the most interesting was a guy who has severe skin grafts as a result of a horrific car accident. In true London fashion it was only when I first started talking to this foreboding looking character that all the stories about his travels, his time in the army, the charity work that he does and the art therapy courses he's involved in came out and it became clear what a lovely gentle person he was. I shot him to be a beast on the outside but a gentleman within.’

Other stand-out shots include a seemingly Snow White influenced evil queen with a crown of feathers and a powerful yet guilty stare. Hendry explains, 'the headpiece was made by Art Director John Proctor out of grouse wings dyed red, and we chose this model as she was slightly older and had much stronger features than a lot of young girls these days - this really helped in creating the almost 'regal' and authoritative atmosphere this shot has, as well as a very classical feeling.’

There is a portrait of twins; one depicted as porcelain skinned and perfect and the other scratched and blood-stained, which is loosely based on the star sign Gemini - according to the artist. Elsewhere, he fuses the animalistic with the human: a Medusa-like waif with fox skulls peeping from her hair, an albino man shrouded in buffalo hide and a teenager covered in shocking tattoos thrusting a set of antlers as a neck brace.

The Art Director for the shoot created some incredible floral displays for the Private View which delicately mingle wild blooms with bones and taxidermy. VIPs tonight breathe a heady aroma of especially chosen scented candles as they view the portraits.

Each image has been beautifully finished by retouchers Taylor James and printed as a one-off series of five.

One of our favourite images in the collection portrays a seventy five year-old lady in punk attire. Hendry tells us he was inspired by The Joker for this shot. We heard a rumour that one of the Sex and the City cast was on the guestlist tonight and cheekily asked if she’d expressed an interest in this portrait. The artist politely declined to answer.

The ‘Legends’ exhibition runs until mid-September at The Great Eastern Bear. For more info about the artist go to www.richhendry.com

The Great Eastern Bear
8a Great eastern street,
London, EC2A 3NT

Opening hours
3pm - 8pm thursdays
11am - 6 pm friday - sunday
or by arrangement