Autograph's popular exhibition Rock Against Racism is touring to Oldham. Syd Shelton’s photographs capture one of the most intriguing and contradictory periods in British post war history. Between 1976 and 1981, the movement Rock Against Racism (RAR) confronted racist ideology in the streets, parks and town halls of Britain. RAR was formed by a collective of musicians and political activists to fight racism and fascism through music.
Under the slogan 'Love Music, Hate Racism', it showcased reggae and punk bands on the same stage, attracting large multicultural audiences. At a time when the fascist attitudes of the National Front were gaining support, RAR marked the rising resistance to violent and institutionalised racism.
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Syd Shelton is a photographer and graphic designer. He studied fine art at Wakefield College of Art. In the early 1970s he began his photography practice following a move to Australia. In Sydney Syd worked as a freelance photojournalist for newspapers such as Nation Review, Tribune, and Digger. In 1975 he had his first solo photographic exhibition at the Sydney Film-makers Cooperative.
In 1976 Syd returned to London and established the design and photography partnership Hot Pink Heart/Red Wedge Graphics which evolved into his current company Graphicsi. Syd become one of the key activists in the Rock Against Racism movement (RAR). He was a photographer and one of the designers of the RAR magazine Temporary Hoarding (1976 to 1981).
Banner image: Syd Shelton, Specials Fans. Potternewton Park, Leeds, 1981. Courtesy the artist.
Page images, from top left: 1) Syd Shelton, Paul Simonon, The Clash. Rock Against Racism / Anti Nazi League Carnival 1, Victoria Park, East London 30 April 1978. Courtesy the artist. 2) Syd Shelton, Anti-racist skinheads. Hackney, London 1979. Courtesy the artist. 3) Syd Shelton. 4) Syd Shelton, The Specials [detail], Potternewton Park Leeds 1981. Courtesy the artist. 5) Syd Shelton, Militant Entertainment Tour [detail], West Runton Pavilion. Cromer, Norfolk, 1979. Courtesy the artist.
Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list