23 October – 28 November 2021
GALLERY TOURS: Friday 19 November, 10 am – 4 pm, Register Interest
Sophie Green’s photographs celebrate the creativity, uniqueness and eccentricities of under-represented subcultures in Britain, often in playful and light ways. Her camera is a way to access people and sceneries she is drawn to, immortalising the fashion styles, mannerisms, cultural customs and rituals deployed in social gatherings. Merging portraiture and still life images, Green’s photographs are imbued with a feeling of surprise and a love for the theatrical and the unexpected. Her work pushes the boundaries of traditional social documentary with a balance of spontaneity and styled constructions. Her images cleverly enhance the colours, shapes and textures that characterise the environments she encounters. Combining works from the series ‘Gypsy Gold’, ‘A Day at the Races’ and ‘Dented Pride’ in a unique display, the exhibition ‘Showtime’ offers a glimpse into the joyful and tender photographic practice of Sophie Green.
“The exhibition is titled ‘Showtime’ because all the photographs were taken at events, shows or fairs. These events are identifying signposts of a culture, a means of expressing, reinforcing and transmitting values, customs, passion and identity. It’s a physical display of our identity, a positive side of living and expression of life and of who we are”, says Sophie Green.
Sophie Green (b. 1991) is a social documentary and art photographer based in London. Following a degree in photography at London College of Fashion, her work has explored aspects of British culture and communities who are drawn together by a shared identity, passion or cultural heritage. She strives to seek out the glue that unites these individuals together as a collective; leading her to explore the realms of travellers, streetcar culture, banger and stock car racing, arm wrestlers, British cowboy culture, Aladura Spiritualist African churches and congregations and afro hair salons. Many of her projects develop over several years to deepen her understanding of the communities she is photographing and honour the subjects’ lives. Green is drawn to the details that surround her subjects as a way of revealing a deeper story of person and place.
The lives of horses and Travellers have always been strongly intertwined going right back to their very origins as Travellers. Whilst nowadays modern caravans have largely replaced the traditional horse and cart, the horse still remains an integral part of the Travellers’ DNA.
The main calendar events of the Traveller world are horse fairs, where horses are traded, girls search for husbands and family and friends from far and wide reunite. It was through this window that I was able to capture the nuances that comprise this colourful aspect of their culture. My shoots took me to regional horse fairs from Appleby in Cumbria, across to Ballianasloe in Ireland, all the way south to Wickham horse fair in Portsmouth. It was a surprising, compelling and beguiling journey.
I loved the vibrancy and showmanship of the fairs, they are totally mesmerising. Whilst shooting I often felt like I had gone back in time – incredible faces, theatrical outfits, traditional carts, gleaming horses, cockerel fights, singing birds and fortune-tellers. I became obsessed with small details – the fashion, makeup, eyebrows, hairstyles, market fakes, leather, bits and whips. The process was very organic and the series is a spontaneous, intuitive reaction to what I observed.
I didn’t want ‘Gypsy Gold’ to become a deep, meaningful, intellectual narrative but to simply record what caught my eye and made me smile. It’s a series of fun incidentals that come together to tell a visual story. I hope the series provides the viewer with a new understanding and appreciation of Traveller culture. For all the criticism that Travellers attract, I found plenty of gold.
– Words by Sophie Green
Rain, more rain, intoxicated teens, drum & bass, burn outs, flat caps, tattoos, gold chains, piercings, eccentric hair, sun shine, tank tops, topless chests, slush puppies, hot dogs, chips, chicks, fast cars, pimped out cars, racer boy heaven – A day at the races.
This project has taken me to regional racetracks and super-sized car festivals – where the racing community compete, socialise with like minded car enthusiasts, exchange the latest tips on car modification, enjoy all-night raves and have their picture taken with pouting promo models. These events provide the ultimate escapism from working life and a social space for youths to meet away from the parental home.
One of the most notorious and misunderstood youth subcultures of the last 30 years is the ’boy racer’ scene. Young motorists are stigmatised due to the tendency to label car modifiers as ‘boy racers’. This sensationalist and politically charged term endorses an image of a young male driving a modified car with a spoiler, alloys, lowered suspension, loud exhaust and stereo system which has become intertwined with notions of deviance and risk on the roads. Since their birth on the scene boy racers have been deemed as a threat to the majority of ‘respectable’ motorists.
For me one of the most compelling notions to come out of this series is the theme of masculinity. The more I explored the community, the more questions were raised. What does racing mean for this group of youths? How much of its appeal is about esteem, achievement, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect and respect from others?
The car has always been symbolic of how well one is doing in society and within the racing world this is even more exaggerated. It’s a modern day version of peacocking. For these youths, the car is a vital tool in progressing their journey through the road of life.
The art of modification is a realisation of self-expression and creativity. It brings individuals together in a unique cultural melting pot to revel in the excitement and escapism it gives from everyday life.‘A Day At The Races’ is a timely spotlight on what kids in souped-up cars are doing today – in every town in the UK. It offers a new and refreshingly positive commentary on this colorful social aspect of British culture.
– Words by Sophie Green
‘Dented Pride’ is a series of Banger and Stock car surface abstractions and was shot in conjunction with my series ‘Bangers & Smash’ which focuses on the Stock Car and Banger racing subculture.
This racing community creatively liberate spare car parts to reconstruct vehicles purposefully stripped of glass, airbags and interior comforts, leaving behind the bare necessities of the car so they can race across the finish line as fast as possible. Once a banger is destroyed, the parts that are rectifiable are salvaged and the rest is sent to scrap. The most notorious and highly anticipated race is the ‘Destruction Derby’ where cars are encouraged to smash into each other – the winner is the last car in motion.
Where some would maybe just see damage and destruction – I saw beauty in the dented, scratched and textured surfaces of the car exteriors. Covered in funny and charming slogans, including nicknames and messages to girlfriends, each car forms a unique work of art in its own individualistic way. As the cars compete, the wear and tear builds layer upon layer as a result of the collisions and crashes creating new compositions which are made completely by chance.
– Words by Sophie Green
All works are available in the following 3 sizes and editions of 8
20.32 x 30.55cm
39.37 x 61.54cm
80 x 124.9cm
Prices are staggered, and will increase throughout each edition:
E.g. 20.32 x 30.55cm (small)
Edition 1 £785
Edition 2 £885
Edition 3 £985
Edition 4 £1,085
Edition 5 £1,185
Edition 6 £1,285
Edition 7 £1,385
Edition 8 £1,485
Prices are inclusive of VAT and framing