Syd Shelton
ROCK AGAINST RACISM

21 Oct - 17 Dec 2017
NEWCASTLE: SIDE GALLERY

FREE ENTRY

Co-curated by Mark Sealy and Carol Tulloch

SIDE GALLERY

Rivington Place

London

RE2A 3BA


past exhibition

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About the exhibition

21 images from our Rock Against Racism exhibition are on display at Side Gallery, part of the Freedom City Festival.

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 fascism and racism 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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At a time when the fascist attitudes of the National Front were gaining support, RAR marked the rising resistance to violent and institutionalised racism.

Syd Shelton’s photographs document the volatility of a country divided across race, class and gender. They expose the ferocity of cultural difference being hammered out on Britain’s streets through the late 1970s, at a time when skinheads danced to Jamaican ska, punks embraced reggae and black kids reached out to punk. Shelton photographed performers such as The Clash, Elvis Costello, Misty in Roots, Tom Robinson, Au Pairs and The Specials as well as the audiences at RAR gigs and carnivals across England.

He captured the history-making RAR Carnival 1 at Victoria Park, London in 1978, and demonstrations such as the Anti National Front Demonstration in Lewisham in 1977. Shelton also took contextual social and cultural images that informed the politics of the movement across England and Ireland. 

Rock Against Racism revisits the energy of RAR, the creative entanglement of black and white musicians, designers, writers, actors, performers and supporters who produced effective counter-narratives to whiteness as superior and blackness as alienated. Shelton’s photographs remind us that RAR was a particular treatise on belonging in Britain.

WATCH

Archive in Focus with Syd Shelton

Video by Autograph



FIND OUT MORE

Images that define an era

Read The Guardian's review of our Rock Against Racism exhibition



EXHIBITION SUPPORTED BY

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
Side Gallery
Freedom City

Banner images: 1) . Syd Shelton, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, The Clash, London 1977. 2)  Syd Shelton, Specials Fans, RAR Carnival Against the Nazis, Leeds, 1981. 3) Syd Shelton Bagga, vocalist with Matumbi, Hackney, London, 1978. 4) Syd Shelton, Tulse Hill Comprehensive School, Brixton, London, 1976.