Photographs by Andrew Bannerman-Bayles & Andrew Medcalf
Curated by East Street Arts
Newlyn Gallery, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2 7UP & The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds
Friday 4th – Sunday 27th October 2013
A new exhibition of photographs in Leeds opens early next month – it’s called My Generation and accompanies a premiere of Alice Nutter’s (Chumbawamba) new play of the same title.
The exhibition features images from an archive (stored in attic boxes since 1991) by Andrew Bannerman-Bayles and Andrew Medcalf – and portray a community of squatters, anarchists, punks, and ravers from the Hyde Park/Meanwood/Chapeltown/Woodhouse areas in the 1980s. This is the first time they have been displayed in public. They really seem to capture a certain period in Leeds’ history i.e grubby anarcho-punks, communes, the underground press, the Duchess’ music scene, and political activism in the city.
School friends Andrew Bannerman-Bayles and Andrew Medcalf moved from Darlington to Leeds in 1984. Here they began to document the thriving punk and local squat scene through photographs, capturing a valuable period in the city’s social history. The images span from 1984-1991, an era when punk, politics, communal living and outdoor raves were a fixture in the areas of Chapeltown, Headingley, Woodhouse and Meanwood. This is the first time they have been displayed in public.
Presented at the Newlyn Gallery & The Reliance on North Street, the exhibition accompanies the world premiere staging of MY GENERATION at West Yorkshire Playhouse. This new play is written by award-winning writer Alice Nutter; a long standing member of the anarchist pop band Chumbawamba. Set in Leeds, it is inspired by the two decades she spent living in a commune and her involvement in radical politics.
Portrayed in a variety of surroundings – from venues such as the Duchess on Vicar Lane, living rooms in LS6/LS7 through to a Goth Convention, the Poll Tax demonstrations at Leeds Town Hall and Hyde Park Punk’s Picnic – the exhibition gives a unique insight into a community of squatters, gig-goers and activists who lived in Leeds under Thatcherism.
During the 1980s, Leeds had a large number of long term squatted properties that became central to a scene often overlooked in the city’s musical history. The bands and promoters contributed to a culture that supported resistance movements including radical feminism, anarchism, and the miners’ strike. The city played a pivotal role in a wider national network of squats, cultivating a vibrant alternative view of music, art and literature.
Working alongside legendary promoter John Keenan, The Flame In Hand Collective hosted and crewed some of the featured hardcore and punk gigs from local and international bands including Fugazi, Nirvana and Rollins Band – indeed, during 1985 Henry Rollins even moved to 52 Harold Mount to record his album ‘Hot Animal Machine’ at Off Beat Studios.
New age travellers, hippies, punks and acid house ravers lived together in squatted properties in Leeds. Photographs such as ‘370 Meanwood Rd’ show Hacksaw Steve smiling on the day the breezeblocks were removed from the windows of this once majestic Victorian terrace. ‘Paul in Van’ depicts a converted truck that had been stationed on Woodhouse Moor, eventually leaving to become part of a traveller convoy.
‘Keith’ captures the aftermath of a party with the subject holding his head in his hands; an act of despair after falling asleep and waking up with his head shaved and dyed bright green. ‘Cardigan’ was taken in 1983 – the Eater t-shirt, undercut hair and vegan footwear focus the figure in the underground style of that period.