Introduction 04 By Karen Eslea
Can’t go on no more: A personal history of Margate’s youth culture
Classroom Portraits, 2004 – 2012 – Julian Germain Thatcher’s Youth, 1979 – 1990 – Toby Mott
By Esther Johnson
List of Works in the Exhibition
Teenage: The Creation of Youth, 1911 – 1946
By Jon Savage
Adolescence since 1890 in Britain and Beyond: A Timeline
By David Bainbridge
Absolute Beginners, 1959 (excerpt) 158 By Colin MacInnes
By Sacha Craddock
Teenage Wildlife Vidéothèque
All Most Heaven – Santiago Mostyn 97 The Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff, 129 1919 (excerpts) By Marie Bashkirtseff
By Nicky Stanley
By Arthur Rimbaud
By Oscar Wilde
Adolescence, 1904 (excerpt)
By G Stanley Hall
(Re)inventing Adolescence By Kent Baxter
The Gang, 1927 (excerpt) 193 By F M Thrasher Streetstyle (excerpt) 196 By Ted Polhemus The Problem of Childhood, 1974 203 By John Holt Young people and 208 territoriality in British Cities, Executive Summary Thrills and spills: Young people’s sexual behaviour and attitudes in seaside and rural areas (edited excerpt)
The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890 (excerpt)
By Keith Kintrea and others
By Anna McNay
A Season in Hell, 1873
By Iain Aitch
In Between Expectation and Experience: Adolescence and Art
Teenagers: A Natural History (excerpt)
Why Youth (Heart) Social 216 Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life By danah boyd
‘Margate’s 20th century history is inextricably associated with youth culture – this may be because of its seaside location which encourages a certain sense of non-conformity and experimentation.’
The premise underpinning Turner Contemporary’s second exhibition, Nothing in the World but Youth, developed out of conversations that Karen Eslea, our Head of Learning, had with young people she met in Margate several years ago. They frequently talked about their isolation and how they felt that society stigmatised them and their activities. When Karen investigated further this was borne out by the often very negative way in which much of the national media reports stories linked to youth. Margate’s 20th century history is inextricably associated with youth culture – this may be because of its seaside location which encourages a certain sense of non-conformity and experimentation. Whatever the underlying reason, we felt that this was a pertinent and universal theme for an exhibition which begins with works that JMW Turner made as a teenager and ends with works made specifically for the show such as Julian Germain’s new Classroom Portrait made in Hartsdown Technology College, Margate. The energy of youth, combined with enormous technological advances, have been a feature of recent political activity in many countries around the world. As research on the exhibition has developed we’ve become very aware of reports about the activities of young people, with students in Britain mobilising to protest about cuts and increases in tuition fees, reports of high youth unemployment, and riots across the country involving some young people. Internationally they have played a central role in recent events in the Middle East. Turner Contemporary is committed to working with members of our community to develop programmes which are relevant for local, regional, national and international audiences. Key to us delivering this is our belief in the need to bring the best of international artistic practice to Margate. Nothing in the World but Youth brings together a vast array of artwork and archive material allowing each of us to consider our own relationship with youth – whether as a young person,
as somebody who might have wished to have spent their youth in a different way or even as somebody who continues to live out their youth into old age. Many people have been involved in developing the idea from the initial stages to its realisation and their input has been invaluable. We used the theme of the exhibition to create discussion and debate through the establishment of a Teenage Advisory Group and the project Time of our Lives, which brought young people and older people together to make artwork and write stories reflecting on the experience of adolescence. The Teenage Advisory Group brought together colleagues from various institutions who helped us shape the curatorial thinking, whilst Time of our Lives, a collaboration with the University of Kent, Kent County Council and BBC Radio Kent, and funded through the Transformation Fund, provided primary research material which has fed into the exhibition’s development. We have also been assisted in the research and development of this exhibition and publication by a number of extraordinarily talented young people particularly Rosamund Garrett and Anna McNay. We are extremely grateful to the many individuals and institutions who have lent work to this exhibition and who have demonstrated their confidence in the concept of the show. Colleagues at Tate, the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, the British Council and Arts Council Collections have been extraordinarily helpful and supportive. With more than ninety artists in the exhibition and some two hundred objects, the curatorial process led by my colleagues, Lauren A Wright and Karen Eslea, has involved much in-depth research and been an organisational feat at a time when we are still unfamiliar with our new gallery spaces. Lenders from around the world have entrusted us with works in order for us to explore the subject in some depth. This exhibition has been designed to focus on a series of themes relating to youth and in so doing has created new interpretations of wellloved works as well as showing work that hasn’t been seen in the UK before.
We are also very grateful to Iain Aitch and Sacha Craddock for contributing new essays for this publication, and to Jon Savage for giving his permission to reproduce an important text related to his seminal book Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, 1875-1945 along with selected images from his archive. Independent curator Esther Johnson has made a selection of short films and artists’ moving image work for the Teenage Wildlife vidéothèque element of the exhibition. Behind the scenes, many individuals both inside and outside the organisation – conservators, couriers, registrars and technicians – worked tirelessly to prepare works for display, as well as transforming the look and feel of the galleries. Neville Mutton has overseen the planning and logistics of transport and installation, Duncan Healey the security and visitor services. Both have been ably assisted by a team of colleagues. I am particularly grateful for Andrew Shedden’s technical assistance and Jon Hillier’s work in supporting the curatorial team. The insurance of works in this exhibition has been made possible through the generosity of the Government Indemnity Scheme. Finally Sarah Martin, Head of Exhibitions, has been a constant support to her colleagues throughout all aspects of the process. This publication serves to document the exhibition and provides a snapshot of material relating to youth both in the visual arts and the wider historical and social contexts that the artworks in the exhibition reflect. Looking through the material, there is a certain similarity in how different ages have regarded youth. Perhaps in an age where the elderly also feel increasingly marginalised, this exhibition and publication should serve as a reminder of the shortness and fragility of life and how quickly we pass from youth to old age. Victoria Pomery, Director September 2011
Can’t go on no more: A personal history of Margate’s youth culture By Iain Aitch Ask any teenager on the street whether their home town is exciting, vibrant or vital and the answer will always be a simple ‘no’. This is the correct answer. After all, without ennui youth is nothing. Each generation has to build its identity from scratch, even if they do purloin a few fine details from those who have gone before. To be satisfied is to be old before your time, and middle-age is a kind of death. ‘No’ would, undoubtedly, have been my snap answer had I been asked the question during my teenage years in 1980s Margate. But with the advantage of hindsight it is easy to see that Margate was an exciting place during my youth, with music, fashion and attitude following the path of least resistance down the coast, on the train, and blowing in on the wind down the Thanet Way. What was hot in London on Monday would usually reach Margate in time for market traders to replicate it that weekend and for those with the wherewithal to show it off on Saturday night. What traders and shopkeepers did not spot or understand was passed from youth to youth by the same kind of telekinesis that allows playground rhymes and games to spread nationwide. Margate was a draw. The weekends would bring in intrepid young explorers from out of town, with the bank holidays delivering even more. The local youths would eventually send them packing, often with a bloody nose, but not before they had asked them where they got their jacket, what kind of shoes those were and what was the deal about that band whose name was emblazoned on their T-shirt. The visitors would soon be back, attracted by the sea, the sand and a desire to show off whatever it was they were wearing next. Even before I was old enough to be considered a youth I was more than a little curious about youth culture and subcultures. At the age of ten I
regularly asked my mother to drive along the sea front on the way to my grandparents’ house in the hope that I would catch a glimpse of some punks, mods or skinheads just hanging around. Youth offered an exciting opportunity to forge an identity, spend quality time in amusement arcades and to slouch and smoke at the same time. Youth was not merely a stage of life, it was something that you had to positively embrace. Anyone could be a kid. Youths got noticed. By the age of eleven I was kitted out in proto-skinhead gear myself. This was partially thanks to the man who ran what looked like a very dull children’s clothiers in Northdown Road, Margate. In fact, Junior Fashions was on some kind of sartorial ley line with Carnaby Street and had a hip older gentleman as your personal shopper. He selected a quality Harrington jacket and dove-grey sta-prest trousers for me that were so smart that no mother could quibble as she handed over payment, direct from a brown pay packet envelope. Of course, mine was not the first generation to toy with fashion, music or seeking to shock the grey-haired ladies of Northdown Road or Margate High Street with our demeanour. Nor, obviously, was it the first to be young in the town. Before the ‘invention’ of the teenager at the end of World War II, youth was but a short transition between childhood and the world of work, marriage and family, with most children leaving school at the age of 14. For many young men it was simply the brief period between finishing school and being shipped out to a war. There was certainly fun to be had in a town with miles of coastline and a regular influx of tourists, especially with the inception of Dreamland amusement park in 1920. Cinemas at Dreamland and the Hippodrome in Cecil Square would have been the main place to spend money earned in the tourist industry during the summer months, when work waiting tables, stacking deckchairs, or cleaning boarding house rooms was plentiful. The economy in winter time was not always so rosy, however. Margate has always suffered
from seasonal unemployment, which made the winters appear so much longer for many. The darkness of the long winters paled in comparison to the two periods of war, when Margate came under aerial attack. During World War I the town’s population diminished substantially, with raids by Zeppelins and bombardment from the sea making locals and holidaymakers feel safer inland. World War II saw a more formal evacuation of Margate’s young, with many shipped out to areas in the Midlands. Those who stayed behind found the requisition of Dreamland by the armed forces and the barbed wire barricades on the beaches something of a hinderance to their enjoyment, but nonetheless carried on making their own fun. Indeed, there was new fun to be had, such as collecting shrapnel, examining spent munitions casings or looking for a very new kind of shell on the beach, sometimes unexploded. In 1944 the school leaving age rose to fifteen and the War was almost at an end. Years of rationing and rebuilding were still ahead for the nation and Margate was no exception. But Dreamland was up and running again by 1946, with Billy Butlin pumping money into the amusement park and Margate hotels the following year. Demobbed troops and The Holidays With Pay Act of 1938 were a boon to the seaside tourist trade, with factory workers arriving in Margate en masse and the town truly establishing itself as a major resort for the working classes, being a geographical counterpoint to Blackpool and the subject of just as many music hall jokes. With rationing reduced and fabric available in colours other than khaki, fashion started to return at the end of the 1940s, with well-off young men adopting Edwardian tailoring, in what was perhaps the first instance of retro fashion. A reaction to the austerity of the war years, the Edwardian outfits had lengthy jackets, which meant extra cloth and extra expense: in effect a very British male counterpart to Dior’s New Look. This outward sartorial boasting made its way down to the working classes in a move that set the scene for the next fifty years of British youth culture and kickstarted a fashion tradition 08
for working class-led trends and for conspicuous consumption as a way of achieving group status. This search for exclusive, expensive items by working class youths pre-dates the notion of designer labels and is neatly echoed down the ages, right to the bling culture of hip-hop. Once London lads started to hang out in easily identifiable groups, all donning Edwardian jackets, it was only a matter of time before the media found an easy tag for them. ‘Edwardians’ quickly became shortened to ‘Teddies’ and the Teddy boy was thus born in a Daily Express headline in 1953. This was not just a male pursuit, either, with film director Ken Russell being enough of a fan of the Teddy girls to shoot a photographic study of the look for Picture Post magazine. Rock ‘n’ roll records, hair grease and the Teds had already made their way to Margate by the time that they earned their name, as evidenced by a viewing of Lindsay Anderson’s 1953 short film O Dreamland. Look behind the grotesque view of the amusement park and you will spot Teds, standing out from other youngsters who are dressed more like mini-me versions of their parents. The Teddy boys had a mobile offshoot, who aped the American fashion of the day for leathers and jeans. Fans of the same music, the greasers were the forerunners to the rockers, who evolved into a youth cult in their own right and played such a large part in Margate’s youth culture history. This transition is generally seen as one that took place over the turning of the decade, further driven by films such as 1964’s The Leather Boys, with the cult being as much about motorcycles and speed as it was about clothes, hair and music. British bikes were seen as best and were, as far as the rockers were concerned, far superior to the ‘hairdryers on wheels’ driven by the group that would become their rivals: the mods. Mods were everything that the rockers were not – they drove Italianmade scooters, wore Italian-made suits (or at least imitations) and could often be found drinking at Italian-
owned coffee bars, with Margate’s mods riding out for frothy coffee hits in Cliftonville, Westbrook and Broadstairs. The mods preferred soul and R&B to rock’n’roll, as well as new, harsher-sounding groups such as the Who and the Yardbirds, who both played live at Dreamland during the mid-1960s. There was an almost intellectual appeal to the early incarnation of mod, as a fondness for jazz, beat poets and philosophy marked this out as a more middle class cult. But working class precursors existed too, with an overall look and culture emerging via disparate groups across London. Youth cults rarely form in one place, instead fulminating in the meeting of the likeminded and the similarly attired. Mods and rockers famously met on Margate’s seafront on 18 May 1964 in an incident that would define the combative nature of bank holidays in seaside towns for years to come. Many locals insist that the fighting was blown out of all proportion, but that has not stopped that Whitsun bank holiday being immortalised in everything from sociology text books to the film Quadrophenia, which lifted the mass trial scenes from the courtroom where Margate Museum now sits, transposing the location to Brighton. Margate magistrate Dr George Simpson carved himself a place in the heart of tabloid newspaper editors as he issued fines totalling £1,900 to 36 youths who had been involved in scraps between mods and rockers, referring to them as ‘long-haired, mentally unstable petty little Sawdust Caesars’. Simpson’s wife was not in the mood for kind words, either. ‘We have lived in Margate for 24 years and last night was dreadful’, she said, ‘The town was full of dirty, grubby teenagers. It must not be allowed to happen again’. Not all locals were as appalled by this unfriendly invasion, with one sideshow worker at Dreamland turning a profit by running mods versus rockers contests on the ‘test your strength’ machine. Giving fractious youths a sledgehammer to wield didn’t impress the local constabulary, but it did bring in a healthy wage for the day, highlighting the often-overlooked
economic input that youth cults have always had into the local economy. Mrs Simpson obviously would have keeled over had she known what was to come in 1968, as the first skinheads marauded through town in large groups. The Daily Telegraph spoke of ‘hundreds of youths in hob-nailed boots’ who spent the weekend scuffling with police, putting Margate at the forefront of the coverage of this new cult group and its ability to intimidate, forging an uneasy bond between the skinhead cult and Margate that exists to this day. Essentially a more working class evolution of mod, the skinheads initially had short (but not shaved) hair and listened to the Jamaican ska and rocksteady that had been popularised by mods and post-Windrush black youth in London. The clothes were a more casual version of the mod look but soon evolved into a distinct style with stringent and often expensive fashion demands, from shape-defining Crombie overcoats to ‘royal’ brogues. Skinhead-girls had distinctive feathered crops, with longer fringes at the front and back, and usually wore loafers or the notoriously uncomfortable Monkey boots on their feet. Local skinheads would travel to London for clothes, though some Margate traders offered Ben Sherman shirts or Levi’s, which would be shortened according to the fad of the month. The look evolved into something of a uniform (often with local variations) that made for an intimidating united front, but there was as much concern about provenance as there was about looking tough. The skinheads invaded Margate again in the summer of 1969, which is seen as the year that skinhead became a mainstream fashion. Braces and checked shirts were suddenly the norm, with local sports shops finding that they suddenly had a run on Fred Perry polo shirts, and not from members of the local tennis club hoping to look like their heroes at Wimbledon. 1969 was also the year of my arrival in town and I could well have passed for a very small skinhead when I was born at the Margate Hospital that January. But in reality it took ten years and the ska revival of the 2-Tone era to get me
into the idea of being part of a youth cult myself. The Bali Hi bar next to Dreamland cinema was a skinhead hangout of note, though it was the venue above it, the Sunshine Rooms, which became the nexus point of the local punk scene, playing host to Siouxsie and the Banshees, Generation X and a pre-pop Adam and the Ants, with Ramsgate punk band the Rivals in regular attendance at gigs. The Rivals were the Thanet band that came closest to making it big, but they were thwarted by record distribution problems. They were, however, successful in spray-painting their band’s name around the island. Some faded examples were still visible decades after the band had split. Punk threw away the fashion handbook along with the music one. But these were the days before i-D, the Face or Dazed and Confused, so there was no coherent look or year zero moment for young people who got into the music and rebellion of punk. Indeed, early photographs of punk gigs show people in flares and with long hair, the very antithesis of the punk look. In the search for punk fashion, charity shops were plundered, school trousers taken in, jackets worn inside out, safety pins applied and workwear or army surplus adapted. A Sid Viciousesque biker jacket could be bought at markets or second-hand from biker hangouts, with bondage trousers requiring a trip to Canterbury. But this was very much the era of DIY culture, with Margate boasting its own punk fanzine Killin’ Time, based in the Dane Valley area. The fanzine would go on to cover the emergence of 2-Tone and the mod revival of the late 1970s. By this point youth culture was starting to regurgitate itself in the form of largely pre-nostalgic revivals and it could often be confusing to anyone but insiders as to who was from exactly which incarnation of what appeared to be cohesive youth cults. 2-Tone brought a confusion of its own at the end of the 1970s, with many newer skinheads not seeing the irony of being both a fan of the Specials and a follower of the National Front. A number of local skinheads were no
exception and pictures from the early 1980s show plenty of extreme right-wing badges or stickers amidst the cropped hair and denim jackets. There were many in the town, myself included, who disrupted this presence by defacing NF stickers or taking them down as fast as their supporters could put them up. But Margate was on a downward economic spiral and had massive unemployment during this time, with such areas always being a target for the far right (as depicted in Shane Meadows’ 2006 film This Is England). The first concert I attended was Bad Manners at the Winter Gardens, a gig which saw Nazi salutes from the crowd and an attempted attack on the band’s drummer, who was their only black musician. The skinhead assailant was downed by a deftly-wielded bass guitar and he hit the deck before being dragged backstage, presumably for a stern talking to. Concerts during this period were often battlegrounds, with rival youth cults and rival towns’ youths clashing on the dance floor. Everyone has their own tales of bloody concerts at the Winter Gardens, a venue where skinheads and punks often had their bootlaces removed in an attempt to quell the inevitable fights. Other venues went as far as banning boots altogether. This led to the amusing sight of skinheads out on the pull at teen nightclub Blades wearing jeans cut to sit above 14-hole boots, leaving six-inches of missing denim and bare leg above their Dr Martens shoes. During 1981 there was a brooding sense that some kind of violence was always about to kick off, which may explain why the local police were put on alert following the summer disturbances in Brixton, Birmingham and Liverpool. The gritty urban nature of Margate and its faded seaside glory was summed up perfectly by that summer’s big hit, Ghost Town by the Specials, a tune that reminds many locals of those times in Margate to this day. Perhaps the bravest cult to join in the early 1980s was the New Romantics, whose style was an extremely camp version of Vivienne Westwood’s punk look. Not something that went unnoticed in the rather macho world of Margate’s youth culture. It took commitment for a young man to go out in
Margate wearing eyeliner and a blouse, which may explain why the cult was so short-lived. Walking along the seafront as a teenager was precarious at the best of times and I was chased along it several times myself for having the wrong hair, wrong footwear or having committed some slight unknown to myself. By 1982 I had gone from a mini-skinhead to a punk, with outlandishly large hair. Crimpers were sometimes involved, as was enough hairspray to warrant a major environmental incident. The town found itself on something of a punk show circuit, with bands like Theatre of Hate, GBH and the Anti-Nowhere League headlining at the Winter Gardens. Each gig was an exciting mix of raw energy, rib-bruising dancing and near-terrifying levels of casual violence for the thirteen-year-old boy I then was. In the world of music there was yet another mod revival and a game of youth cult run-around as some skinheads switched to a soul boy look, with swoop-fringed ‘wedge’ haircuts that just about covered their small forehead tattoos. How they made the required musical taste transition from the likes of the Cockney Rejects and 4-Skins to Level 42 and Wham! is anyone’s guess. Burgundy everything became popular for a brief period in the early 1980s, and it was not unusual to see devotees top off a burgundy outfit with matching hair and eyebrows. Level 42 played at the Winter Gardens in 1983, no doubt to a sea of burgundy waffle cardigans. Locally, bikers, heavy-metal fans and punks became hard to tell apart at times, with Margate thrash metal band Obliteration catering for all those tastes at the Ship Inn (on the site where Turner Contemporary now sits) and the Kent Hotel, the latter being the subject of a tear gas attack during one of their gigs. The spot opposite the Kent was also popular with a new and growing band of breakdancers, who would bodypop and spin on pieces of lino laid down by the clocktower as the original Street Sounds album blared out from a ghetto blaster. The dancing would last as long as funds for the enormous number of batteries required to power the tape player held out. As the 1980s came to an end Margate was looking more run down than ever
and the youth cults that had enlivened the place started to die out as well, locally and nationwide. The holidaymakers stopped coming for weeks by the sea and the vitality drained from the town. The bank holiday weekends were largely left to the scooterists, who were a mix of older mods, skinheads, punks and psychobillies (a punkier offshoot of rockabilly), but the concept of such strict links to music, fashion and lifestyle was becoming far more fringe. The rave and free party scenes around the turn of the decade did draw a crowd, especially at the Lido. But the 1990s did not deliver the kind of exclusive adherence to a look and sound that could be distinguished as a youth cult, the drugs of the day tending to unite people around music rather than divide them over cut of trousers or haircuts. Looks became more disposable and more utilitarian. Sportswear started to dominate, providing a dull echo of the days when the soul boys-cum-football hooligans known as casuals sought out obscure items from Sergio Tacchini, Fila or Lacoste, themselves unwittingly aping the mods’ search for rare cycling gear in the 1960s. Goth and grunge made something of an impact in Margate in the 1990s, with the Pisces club on Elephant Hill becoming goth central for a short while, the dank basement being decorated with tribal designs and spilt snakebite with blackcurrant. But these were minority, almost selfcontained interests, with the rest of the town being all but unaware of their existence. A far cry from the impossible to ignore seafront sights of the resort’s subcultural heyday. Of course, any look back is bound to suffer from a touch of rose tint, but there is no denying that the relationship of Margate and youth cults was a symbiotic one. Local politicians and police may have felt much trepidation in the run up to a bank holiday, but it established the town as a place to be seen and that has, in time, built into an offbeat civic pride from those who were once seen as local terrors. There is, for example, a certain kudos in being able to prefix
‘skinhead’ with ‘Margate’, whether or not your rediscovery of the number-one crop may initially have been more about male pattern baldness than a desire to get back on the dance floor at one of the annual skinhead weekenders at the West Coast bar. Likewise, to be able to regale friends with your time as a mod, rocker, punk, Ted or rockabilly in Margate puts you at the very centre of youth culture history. These are the war stories and social connectors for the post-war working class. Friendships and bonds made over music and in the amusement arcades last until this day, with cult rivalry now faded to gentle ribbing over hair and clothing from the past. The names of the ghosts who never made it this far still ring out at the bar, with tales of good times and bad re-lived and a pint raised to the fallen. The story is far more human than simply a memory of mods and rockers fighting on the beach almost 50 years ago. Youth culture is so deeply ingrained in Margate that its genius loci is almost tangible as you pass rundown music venues, alleyways, forgotten hideouts and amusement arcades. The estates and bedrooms fostered as much creative energy as that which JMW Turner or Tracey Emin shared and you can feel it in the air. Margate is different. And Margate never runs. Iain Aitch is a Margate-born author and journalist. He was artist in residence in Margate during May 2011. He lives in east London.
From top: Iain Aitch as a skinhead, 1981; Iain Aitch with friends as a punk, 1986
Thatcher’s Youth, 1979 – 1990 Toby Mott This selection from the Mott Collection for Nothing in the World But Youth of paper material illustrating the youth culture of Britain in the 1980s includes political ephemera from both the left and right and highlights polarised, disenfranchised youth and their leisure activities. The Premiership of Margaret Thatcher began on 4th May 1979. Like Punk, this was something new. In the 1980s Britain’s youth subcultures fractured into a myriad of competing and merging retro tribes, first Punks, Skinheads, Two Tone Mods and Psychobillies. Then came the birth of Thatcher’s distinctive, fashion conscious New Romantics.
Class War: Bash the Rich magazine, June 1985
‘The mother of 1000 dead’, anarchist flyer, 1984
The advent of the 1980s saw Punk embracing radical politics with the bands Crass and Class War the flag bearers for those not enamoured with the developing yuppie culture of self-interest. Their printed material had a graphic look more stylised than the crude cut and paste of 1977 Punk, championing causes such as animal liberation, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), squatting and anti-fascist direct action. This new Anarcho Punk developed a singular scratchy handdrawn font with stencilled logos to communicate its message of dissent. At the same time, an informed nod to Constructivism and the Bauhaus by designers such as Peter Saville and Neville Brody bought a seeming sophistication to the ‘New Wave’ music/ style scene exemplified in the graphics of Joy
Division/New Order, The Face Magazine and many of the various indie fanzines and bands. This new clean look shrugged off its predecessors’ cruder attempts at an immediate spontaneous DIY visual language, such as that of the seminal punk fanzine Sniffin Glue.
New Order, Movement album promotional poster, 1981
The Face magazine, issue no. 4, August 1980
From top: New Order, gig poster, Tower Ballroom, Birmingham, 1983 Madness, promotional poster for 1979 tour, 1979
Modern Drugs magazine, issue no. 2, 1979
From top: Practical Anarchy, ‘All Hate to the State’ poster, early 1980s White Skins White Pride fanzine, 1988 Crass Records, Bullshit Detector 3 compilation LP, 1984 ‘A Bloody Expensive Slag!’, anarchist flyer, 1980s
Human League, poster, 1981
The New Romantics welcomed Thatcherism’s new growing prosperity for the few and the luxury consumer culture to follow, standing for nothing if not the celebration of the death of the past and Old Labour. This was hedonistic dressing up, nightlife and the superficial – freedom from ideas. It was nihilism
without the rage of the continuing punk culture, more akin to 1970’s Glam Rock and the Berlin of the 1930’s, with their gender defying a-sexual dress exemplified by Boy George and Leigh Bowery, reported and photographed in the new style directories of The Face, ID and Blitz magazines.
Mainstream pop culture was also embracing the new high camp electro-synth death-of-guitars pop of the likes of Adam Ant, Wham!, Duran Duran, The Human League and Spandau Ballet who were seen to embody the year zero New Romantic Thatcherite spirit.
From top: i-D magazine, ‘The i-Deye Issue’, no. 3, January 1981; i-D magazine, ‘The Plain English Issue’, no. 48, June 1987 WHAM! Andrew Ridgeley poster, 1983
From top: Big Audio Dynamite, â€˜C`mon Every Beatboxâ€™ promotional poster, 1986 Decca Records, Strength Through Oi! compilation album, 1981
Skinhead Rhymes fanzine, 1980s
Hip Hop’s cut and paste sampled culture was imported and popularised by a re-invented Malcolm McLaren’s 1983 Duck Rock album and by New York City-influenced former Clash members, Big Audio Dynamite. Meanwhile the marginalized right wing Skinhead movement co-opted a sub genre of Punk, Oi! street punk, ‘White Noise’, with bands such as Skrewdiver, No Remorse and The 4 Skins. During the notorious Southall riot of 1981, the local community took exception to Skinheads’ presence in a predominantly Asian neighbourhood, resulting in the confrontation, firebombing, and destruction of the Hambrough Tavern pub, which was hosting an Oi! concert. ‘The Gig That Sparked A Race Riot’ ran the cover story of The NME that week. Early supporters of Oi!, the so-called authentic voice of the working class, now distanced themselves from it. With constant infighting and nostalgia for a lost England voiced in their publications such as Blood and Honour, Skinheads were to become a fading force, as anti-racist legislation was drafted and prosecutions implemented. Nicky Crane, the poster boy of the neo-nazi British Movement and ‘star’ of the cover artwork for the ‘Strength Thru Oi!’ compilation album was to reveal his secret gay life, thus splitting the movement further. Crane died of Aids in 1993. From top: New Musical Express (NME) magazine, 11 July 1981 Skrewdriver sticker, 1980s
The traditional working classes found themselves under assault from Thatcher and battled to save their communities and identities with the miners’ leader Arthur Scargill at the front. Some three million unemployed signed on the dole and the ‘Right to Work’ marches grew whilst Employment Secretary Norman Tebbit famously told them to, ‘Get on your bike’. Britain was polarised. Thatcher pushed forward, inspired with the hope of Charles and Diana’s 1981 Royal wedding to ‘Feeding The World’ via Live Aid in 1985. She proved
From top: National Union of Mineworkers, Miners Strike stickers, 1984 Royal Wedding poster, July 1981 Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), ‘Stand Together’ poster, Easter 1983
invincible in battle in the Falklands in 1982 and secured our ‘special relationship’ with Ronald Reagan’s nuclear America, who deployed cruise missiles at Greenham Common resulting in the resurgence of the peace movement and the growth of ‘peace camps’ at the American bases throughout the UK. Surviving the 1984 IRA Brighton bomb, Maggie marched us into the free market economy of haves and have-nots, ignoring the despair of the broken industries of the past, and defeating the Miners’ Strike of 1985. Post-war Britain was over; the Labour Party was adrift in yesterday’s politics: now it was cappuccino time as you chatted on your new mobile phone – if you could afford one.
November 1990: Margaret Thatcher resigns as Prime Minister and Conservative party leader. In part her downfall was due to the social unrest and large scale riots culminating in The Battle of Trafalgar on the 31st March 1990, where in excess of 200,000 demonstrators took to the streets of central London in reaction to her government’s introduction of the unpopular Poll Tax. Vanilla Ice was top of the pop charts with ‘Ice Ice Baby’. With the advent of Acid House and the Rave scene Dance culture was to dominate the attentions of the nation’s youth as we moved into the 1990’s. Toby Mott 2011
Right to Work Campaign poster, 1986 Following page: ‘No War, No Followers’, poster, 1980s
Full of fascinating essays that explore youth cutlure from the late nineteenth century to today, the exhibition catalogue is the ideal compa...
Published on Dec 8, 2011
Full of fascinating essays that explore youth cutlure from the late nineteenth century to today, the exhibition catalogue is the ideal compa...