In over four decades, Derek Ridgers made his name capturing the explosion of subcultures and style tribes from the 1970s to the present. Initially drawn to photography as a music fan who wanted to get closer to the bands, Ridgers found himself at the centre of movements that were as photogenic as its pioneers.
This October, he will present a book Derek Ridgers – Photographs published by Carpet Bombing Culture and an exhibition of his archive of candid portraits of the stars of music, screen and even politics.
Ridgers calls this his “other photographic odyssey”, which features musical legends such as Frank Zappa, Nick Cave, The Beastie Boys, Jarvis Cocker, The Rolling Stones, Christopher Lee, Richard Harris, Samuel L Jackson and more.
Curated by Faye Dowling, the exhibition and book will also include the anarchic and the avant-garde, including an unseen collection of printed archive and original magazines such as i-D, The Face and NME.
As Ridgers has articulated, Punk happened around him. He found himself in its midst, armed with a camera. Wanting to be like the people he photographed, he documented from the margins of the seismic scenes that existed in dark underground nightclubs. In his book, Ridgers gives them equal billing, including the luminaries and the disciplines, giving due credit to all.
Driven by anger, disenfranchisement and hedonism, Ridgers’ subjects signify the breadth and diversity of British counterculture, via the rise of early skinheads and Punk. As one of few photographers of his generation to capture these movements, Ridgers takes us on his fascinating survey of these subcultures.
Having documented the youthquakes and music scenes, where pre-Internet pop culture percolated into movements, he told Creative Boom, “From the 40s through to the early ’80s, subcultures were allowed to gestate away from the critical gaze of the naysayers. So that before most people found out about biker gangs, beatniks and teddy boys, they had some shape and some strength in numbers. But if anything interesting happens today, because of social media, by this evening the whole world will know about it and by tomorrow the negativity will be out.”
As we live in a society where people earn star status and a living by posting selfies, Ridgers’ book and exhibition tells much about the nature of celebrity and the loosening relationship between talent and fame.
The Derek Ridgers Pop Up is presented as part of Artblock at the Old Truman Brewery, a new annual arts fair which includes the MONIKER Art Fair. Find out more at derekridgers.com.
Nena Cherry, Kensal Rise, November 1988. © Derek Ridgers
Richard E Grant, Twickenham, 1997. © Derek Ridgers
Damon Albarn, Holborn Studios, 1997. © Derek Ridgers
Kylie Minogue, Chalk Farm, 1994. © Derek Ridgers
Tim Roth, Brick Lane, 1985. © Derek Ridgers
Robbie Williams, Brussels, 1996. © Derek Ridgers
Glue Sniffing, Soho, 1981. © Derek Ridgers
Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich, Cavendish Square Gardens, 1987. © Derek Ridgers
Nick Cave, Chalk Farm, 1997. © Derek Ridgers
Snoop Dogg, Holland Park, 1994. © Derek Ridgers
Michael Stipe, Athens Georgia, 1991. © Derek Ridgers
Skinhead Girls, Brighton, 1980. © Derek Ridgers
Michelle Carr, Hollywood, 1992. © Derek Ridgers
Gary Oldman, London, 1985. © Derek Ridgers
Laurence Sessou, Brick Lane, 2015. © Derek Ridgers
Tuttii Fruttii Gregson, Deptford, 2017. © Derek Ridgers