exhibition an eye on grime opens tonight in leeds
A brief history of the culture, as told by its most formative visual documenters.
In the early 00s, when grime was coming to life via pirate stations and the odd rave, no one knew what D Double E, Dizzee or Wiley looked like... our 'all seeing' digital generation was still in its infancy. It wasn't until R. Cleveland Aaron's early portraits of the Godfather of Grime back in 2002 and Simon Wheatley's iconic ice cream van portraits of Roll Deep, that the fans could put faces to names, via magazines like RWD.
Opening tonight in Leeds, An Eye On Grime examines the visual documentation of grime, from then until now. Put together by i-D's Feature Director Hattie Collins and curated by i-D contributor, the photographer Oliva Rose, An Eye on Grime runs from tonight until 30/10 at Prime Studios, Kirkstall Road, Leeds. The pair, who recently released the book This Is Grime, teamed up with Red Bull UK to create an array of images and moving images that examines the way the culture has been documented over the years.
Looking back to these early photographs, we can see instantly how the scene's look, sound and style has evolved over the past 14 years. We should thank Roony Keefe's Nan for lending him £300 in 2002 to buy a video camera, jump starting his career as Risky Roadz - the seminal low-fi style that helped the scene come to life via the art of moving image around 2003. Concurrently, Ratty and Capo created Lord of the Decks, which migrated into Jammer x Ratty's Lord of the Mics, both breeding and battle-ground for new talent and the scene's stars that is still a seminal part of the culture. Through these DVDs - as well as Troy A+'s Practice Hours - we have first-hand evidence of the people, places, faces and freestyles that helped spread the sound from East London to the whole of the UK - and later, the world.
Around 2003, archetypal artisans Tim and Barry arrived and with them so did a number of unforgettable images of the scene's founders as well as its emerging generation; D Double, Dizzee, Jammer, Skepta, JME and many more. Later, they took their ideas to the screen, multiplying their talents as photographers to filmmakers, promoters and ultimately internet gangstas, who even went on to win a MOBO for the creative contribution to Skepta's That's Not Me.
Flash forward to 2016 and the so called 'revival' of grime in recent years and we have seen a new age of artists come through via the ever strengthening power of the internet and social media. From the pit to the stage, Ashley Verse has become the go-to name in grime photography, Reuben Dangoor given grime a sense of gravitas with his impressionist digitally-created paintings. In 2014 Vicky Grout's arresting portraits of Section Boyz earned her acclaim and a weighty digital following - she now regularly shoots everyone from the young gunners to the top boys. At around the same time, analog-only photographer Olivia Rose teamed up with Hattie to create This Is Grime, an oral history and formidable body of portraiture documenting the scene in its current form.
All of the above feature in the exhibition, alongside journalist/photographer Hyperfrank, illustrator Jacob Everett, Courtney Francis, Blaow, Marco Grey and Quann (wot do u call it).
Although the launch tonight is sold out, the exhibition is open everyday from 12 until 5 from Friday until Sunday. Find out more on the exhibition and accompanying live show tonight with Giggs, Slimzee, Jammz and Nadia Rose, here.
Images Olivia Rose, Vicky Grout, Reuben Dangoor