The notorious Redlands drugs bust of 1967 brought the image of the arrested Mick Jagger to the front pages of newspapers throughout the world. This was the first truly high profile celebrity drugs bust on either side of the Atlantic, and seemed to justify the suspicions of many that the swinging London of the 1960s was a haven of rebellion and drug abuse.
Handcuffed to Mick Jagger in John Twines' now iconic press photograph was Robert Fraser, a man with old world charm but a new world aesthetic. His gallery was the most cutting edge exhibition venue in London, introducing both Dubuffet and American Pop to the British public. Likewise, under his wing many of the great British Post-War artists flourished, despite his lack of financial acumen which often demanded remarkable loyalty from the artists. Richard Hamilton was one of these artists. His 1956 work Just What Is It That Makes Todays Homes So Different, So Appealing was one of the building blocks of Pop, world-wide, yet he had been teaching, and therefore out of the limelight, for some time. Fraser convinced him to turn to art full-time, promising great rewards (that never appeared), but also providing him with several exhibitions, including a 1966 one man show. After Frasers arrest and imprisonment, his artists, loyal friends, kept the gallery alive with a tribute exhibition to which Hamilton contributed. Meanwhile, press cuttings kept being sent to the gallery. Hamilton managed to obtain these, and to create a collage with the various stories within it. This collage later spawned several artworks, partly in the form of a famous poster, but also in the series of pictures of Swingeing London, taken from the Twine photograph at the top left. Discussing it, and its title, Hamilton explained that 'Among the pieces I used for the collage, there was a phrase that struck me very forcibly, a remark made by a judge in the case, who said, 'There are times when a swingeing sentence should be administered' - something like that, anyway - and only a few months earlier Robert had been very well represented in the Time piece, which was called 'Swinging London'. So it was a pun on swinging London and the swingeing sentence' (Hamilton, quoted in H. Vyner, Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser, London 1999, p. 163). In this work, Hamilton's Duchampian fascination with puns and found objects is combined with one of the great scandals of the time to create an engaging artwork that is both a testimony to those swinging times, and a touching tribute to a friend.