Trav speaking. The collaboration presented in this article is made up of five shots taken from Gavin Watson’s seminal book Raving '89, which I have then drawn on and painted over by hand. I wanted to give another level of life, to encapsulate the energy of the moment when the iconic photo was taken and also the wider movement. The whole explosion of Rave, much like with Punk, has resonated with me so heavily as I grow older, I often think some sort of energy of that time has seeped into me.
The resulting images are being sold as limited edition prints through the Museum Of Youth Culture, 20 prints of each image, 100 in total. When they’re gone they’re gone. The hope is for us to build upon the original images by creating a larger series, presented in an exhibition.
Since all the photos I chose were shot black and white, I felt like a burst of colour through vivid lines and movement would work, making the images appear multi-levelled and complementing the scenes and energy you can feel when you look at them. Imagine being there, out of your mind on very decent 80’s pills, a room full of ecstatic people, all totally in love with everything, the lights, the sound of a new music and feeling, I hope to have somehow captured that in a vignette.
Gavin and I had been friends for a long while before this, and I had always been a huge fan of Gavin’s photography way before I met him. I had actually seen the Raving '89 images by accident at a random joint exhibition years ago, on one of my first proper trips to London. I remember being equally captivated, intrigued and blown away by the projected scenes. A place that seemed so vivid and alive, but they also felt like images of ghosts, an energy dead and gone but tangible. Back when rave was pure and real and in no way washed out, watered down and mass produced like 99% of all festivals and events today trying to bare the moniker. The images translate this purity so well. They are what they are.
Flash forward a good many years later, I had the pleasure of meeting Gavin on a shoot I was doing around Southbank, I showed him the clothing thing I was doing (Real Fakes), he liked the work and we clicked, spending an incredibly hot summer’s evening drinking expensive cans of Red Stripe and talking about ideas for projects related to clothing and creativity in general. In the years since he has shot photos of the clothing, produced a look book and generally helped link me with people to get stuff rolling. We always laugh about the fact that I was literally born in 88’, in the summer that this whole movement kicked off. I wasn’t even able to walk whilst Gavin was deep in these warehouses and fields and rooms with the camera.
So through Gavin I was introduced to the people at the Museum Of Youth Culture who were really into the ethos and idea of the combining my artwork and his photography, backing it from the get go. So a huge thanks must be given to them for being the catalyst to get these things into a physical form and to be able to use their platform to properly launch this project. Moreover, I would love to talk to anyone who is into the work and maybe has ideas to use it in some way, I would love it to evolve in lots of different ways... I really love the idea of these images translating onto clothing and almost definitely some sort of zine or book as well. All ideas for now but I would love to push these and the style/ collab further. I hope the work resonates, entertains and interests people, I had a lot of fun making it.
I asked Gavin (a man who notoriously hates doing interviews) a few questions about the work, his photography, the time and place and how the project came out...
T: Do you still feel anything looking at any of the rave images now, are they just photos of a time for you or do any spark strong or powerful memories of that time?
G: It depends what mood I'm in, or how much I've had to drink or if I'm listening to old 88-89 mixes on youtube (the first track in this one has to be one of my all time faves). The photos have definitely grown on me over time, there are a few classics in there.
Did you feel, at that time, that something truly giant and magical was happening, a universal connectedness like the 60's all over again, or was it just something exciting happening on the weekend. Did you feel that you were capturing something special or was it just a fun time to have the camera out?
A fun time to have the camera out?? I fucking hated taking my camera out to any of the raves but the guys that organised them would let me in for free if I took photos and then they would be used on flyers. I did know, or feel, that something incredible was happening, but I never guessed that my images would play any sort of part in it
Did you picture how these would come out before I started working on them, if so, did they come out how you imagined or totally different?
I’m a fan of your work, I knew they would be interesting. I wasn’t surprised with the style, it’s very you. To me it’s like an unseen aura, it, reminds me a bit of that energy Van Gough had in his paintings or Rhubarb and Custard cartoons. It would be funny to put Rhubarb and Custard next to Van Gough.
Actually that’s a good point, what did you think of my choice of your photos, would you have chosen other ones if asked?
I’m always interested in finding out what other people see in the images, which ones jump out at them. I feel you chose the right ones for what you did. I would have never been able to make up my mind on which images to send over. I don't have your eyes.
How does it feel for photos to be added to by someone who was born at the same time you were out in the depths of it all…
I feel like it breathes a new life into them, extending that fraction of a second into something longer.
Lastly, what do you hope for this collaboration in terms of an evolution with it, or what do you feel would work going forward?
I hope the collaboration gets as many eyes on the creations as possible and hopefully we can do a show based on the idea and take it to Ibiza so I can get some sun….
Much respect to Gavin for the encouragement, inspiration and permission to use the work.
Much respect to Scott and Jon at Museum Of Youth Culture for showing an interest, helping to promote and getting all the work printed.
So, these prints are available to buy now, limited edition, a run of 20 of each, A2 (Professional Prints on 170gsm Silk Photo Paper) from the Museum Of Youth Culture website.
To play us out, here is one of Gavin's favourite tracks that he always goes back to: W.H.Y. by The Higher Intelligence Agency,