Thursday, 23 August 2012

Midweek Reading... We Can Be Heroes


"I’ve had the negatives stashed away in the attic for all these years, the majority never printed, let alone published" admits the photographer and graphic designer Graham Smith who found himself at the vortex of creativity and youth cultures that spun out of the capital in the 1980s with camera in hand. Thankfully, these almost forgotten photographs were published by Unbound and the result is We Can Be Heroes. "As a teenager seeing The Clash and The Sex Pistols changed his life" he continues. Punks empowering message of 'Get up off your arse and do something creative' struck home. Whereas most picked up guitars, Smith's weapon of choice was his faithful Olympus OM 2 camera. "Then I shot the emerging London clubbing scene that rose from Punk’s ashes." From gigs to Soho nights and warehouse parties, Smith's images captured the potent youthful energy of London clubland from 1976 to 1984.

We Can Be Heroes offers much more than just a snapshot of a different time of partying. As well as around five hundred of Smith's photos (most unseen) and a supporting narrative from his good friend Chris Sullivan, there's an introduction from Robert Elms, memoirs by Boy George, Gary Kemp and Steve Strange and countless pithy quotes from more than fifty of the main faces on the scene, plus play lists for each of the clubs. It's a beautifully designed piece of social history told by those that created the scene. Whether you'd like to be reminded by these moments or simply inspired by a different time, this is a book to get lost in.

"So much has changed since Graham was fist a kid with a camera that it seems many worlds away. Looking again at these pictures after all these years, it's not just another lifetime but a different universe. Yet so many of the seeds of those changes, of the life we now lead, and the land we now live in, were planted in that couple of years, by that small group of overdressed, overheated youth hungry for fun and dressed for destiny."
Robert Elms on the impact of London Clubland in the early 80s

Just a small selection of Smith's images that caught my eye.

Thanks to the support of its readers the book was fully funded and released at the tail end of last year. If inspired (and you should be), you can still buy the book exclusively from Unbound.


David Johnson said...

I ought to point out that the eighth shot down was taken by me and I'm flattered that it is the first pic you see after the book's title page – chosen by Graham the author because we see him in it at right, during a seminal British pop-fashion invasion of New York in 1981. You can see more of my own pix from that trip in 1981 here at my website:

Thanks, DJ

EJ said...

DJ meant to say 9th rather than 8th in his comment.


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