This year, in the true spirit of Christmas, we’re doing the Miniclick Photobook Advent Calendar where we’ll look at a different photobook, newspaper, magazine or ‘zine we like by someone we’ve worked with in the last 12 months, right up until Christmas Day.
Day 4 – December 4th
Day 4 of the Great Miniclick Photobook Advent Calendar and the door has a picture of some brandy and coke on the cover… It’s Ewen Spencer’s UKG! Hurrah! Ewen is possibly the photographer we’ve done the most events with over the last three years and we’ve always kept an eye out for his work (not to mention his legendary launch parties). Ewen and GOST (as publishers) is the coming together of two of our favourites…
“Ewen began making this series of pictures around the UK Garage scene in 1998 frequenting Twice as Nice at the Colosseum and various other events around what was then known as the Sunday Scene. He bears witness to a burgeoning underground being in the right place at the right time to capture a classic British Sub Culture.
The pictures take us from the dance floors of South London to illegal Garage Raves and eventually the success of the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa’s hedonistic holidaying party crowd at the turn of the century. Never an underdressed moment the Garage scene epitomises the clean living under difficult circumstances aesthetic realised by many British youth since the late 1950s.”
UK Garage seems to be undergoing a bit of a revival at the moment, certainly it’s come back to the bigger, more mainstream clubs again. It doesn’t seem like it went away long enough for a revival, but it’s easy to forget how important UK Garage was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. It was everywhere and it’s good to know it’s history was so extensively documented by someone as good as Ewen.
The first thing that jumps out with the images is that all those styles were not as outrageous as I remember. I was never much in to Garage to be honest, but on the occasions I went to a club I remember A LOT more Moschino. Maybe that’s because Ewen has captured an short period before all that, before it got so flashy and whilst it was a lot of people really getting into the music (and each other plus a fair bit of weed). This is a style that Ewen now seems to have made his own – the images are close up and intimate, in amongst it all. As Mike Skinner’s intro says “The first thing I wondered when I saw them (photos) was how he didn’t get beaten up for snapping such intimate moments of some pretty certified-looking badmen”.
The edit of the images in the book is a masterstroke as they take us through the night; building it up, culminating in the full-bleed centre pages, all sweaty and dancing in full flow, and subsiding to the smaller images towards the end of the late night hookups and causalities. The intro from Mike Skinner is superb and provides a brief history from one of the scenes greats. The essay in the back from Jason Evans (Meanwhile, on the Other Side of Town…) is great to, as you’d expect from him. I also really appreciate the thumbnails, with locations and dates in the back (the club flyer inserts are a nice touch to!).
UKG is published by GOST and costs £30, from here.