Published on February 24, 2014 | by Adam Kemp0
Exhibition: Life on the road
★★★★★Launched in partnership with Green Week, Life on the Road exhibits work from filmmaker Andrew Gaston and photographers Dave Fawcett and Tom Hunter.
The show shines a light on an area of the near past not that is often looked into, documenting the traveller movement and free party scene of the early to mid ’90s with 111 never-before seen images by Hunter, a LCC Professor of Photography Research.
Several subcultures, in the years following their heyday, are sensationalised to such status by so-called taste-makers that they become almost worshiped.
The taste-makers do so as if to affirm their place as real people, who do real things.
They stake a claim in a past more exciting than their real past, and in doing so, cement these subcultures in our collective consciousness, as proper British institutions of the type much of them stood staunchly against.
Whilst the past, in certain scenes, is often worn as a fashionable badge of pride, the rebranding of pop culture often bypasses areas of the underground that are equally worthwhile.
So, the travellers and free parties of the ’90s fall directly into this category.
Despite incubating and influencing early rave culture and pushing the radicalism of the ’60s, the travellers have been largely ignored by the mainstream culturati.
The exhibition goes a small way to resolve that. Hunter’s work captures the everyday life of him and his friends, as they travelled around Europe in a mobile cafè called ‘Le Crowbar’.
This is accompanied by Gaston’s film, which shows similar moments of life on the road and wild antics that put the efforts of much of today’s youth to shame – parties, food, children playing and back to more insane parties.
Fawcett’s photos, on the other hand, act as a catalogue for the various vehicles that the travellers used – many of which, with their psychedelic paint jobs and customisations, are works of art in their own right.
From the Castlemorton Free Festival to the Mutoid Waste Company and the spirit and influence of what made Glastonbury what it was, the travellers were in many ways the last of a kind, who were free to choose such a radically different way of life.
The powers did their best to put an end to this, but these photos and film stand testament to a subculture that deserves more recognition than it gets.
Though the way of life portrayed in this exhibition has become almost unworkable, it shows an alternative to the rat race that might inspire the new generation.
The exhibition will be shown at LCC’s Upper Street Gallery until February 26.