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Return of the Rudeboy: Exhibition by Dean Chalkley

An exhibition not to be missed across the summer is - Return of The Rudeboy at Somerset House in London. Curated by fashion photographer Dean Chalkley and creative director Harris Elliot, the exhibition comprises a series of portraits and installations that “depict a collective of sharply dressed individuals, who exemplify an important yet undocumented subculture”.

Over the course of the past year, the duo have photographed more than 60 individuals across the UK, documenting the life, style and attitude of the re-born and growing urban group.

Jamaica’s first youth subculture, Rudeboys were depicted as the troubled youth, whose culture revolved around Ska and Rocksteady music. The name ‘Rudeboy’ began as a colloquial term for juvenile delinquents of the 1950s by the islands establishment. Like all youth subcultures (Punk probably the most famous), youth then adopted the terms as a new group identity.

Young men dressed in sharp suits with thin ties and pork pie hats, inspired by American style and Soul artists exemplified the emerging Rudeboy culture. The style crossed the Atlantic via Jamaican migrants bound for a better life in Britain. Picked up by British working class youth and absorbed into Mod style in West London.

The Rudeboy has recurred throughout the history of popular music both in Jamaica and Britain. Their sartorial influence – was evident in both the early Mod and Skinhead movements of the early and late 60s, with labels such as Blue Beat bringing music from Jamaica to ignite the dance floors of London and beyond.

It was also a key influence for the Two-Tone Ska movement that emerged out of the Midlands and London in the wake of Punk in the late 1970s, when bands such as The Specials, The Selecter and Madness reinvigorated Jamaican ska.

The exhibition promises an immersive experience with each of the subjects featured in the portraits providing their signature playlist acting as a sonic backdrop to the visual works.

The curators have worked closely with a variety of influential collaborators to contribute exciting, engaging and enrich the content of the exhibition. These include Rashad Smith, a British-born, New York-based producer who has worked with the likes of Busta Rhymes and Nas, tailors Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh, and Grammy award-winning filmmaker and pivotal Punk/Reggae scene DJ Don Letts.

Return of the Rudeboy will be at Somerset House, London until 25 August.

(Images: Top: Sam Lambert, Middle: Bevan Agyemang, Bottom: Martell Campbell & Donya Campbell)

80th Anniversary of Fred Perry’s first Wimbledon title

Britain dominated the world of lawn tennis in the mid 1930s. For three years, Fred Perry was the undisputed world number one, winning a string of major titles and a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles through 1934-1936. 

Today, Fred Perry holds an iconic status. With his victories embedded in history along with his incredibly successful sportswear brand, his legacy is immensely influential to this day.

Born Frederick John Perry on 18 May, 1909, in Stockport. His father Sam was a cotton spinner who worked for the local Co-operative Party, and was summoned to London to work full-time at the party HQ. Fred attended Ealing County School, London and it was there that he was introduced to the world of table tennis.

Fred practiced the game every night and in 1928, he had won the world championship. At which point, he retired from the sport to concentrate on his new obsession – lawn tennis.

He had discovered the game whilst on a family holiday in Eastbourne four years earlier. Stumbling upon a local tournament, he was curious to who the cars parked near the courts belonged to; the spectators or the players? When his father replied ‘the players’, Fred declared that he would become one himself. At the time, tennis belonged to the upper classes, and this was an audacious statement from a working class boy from Stockport.

Fred began training under one Pop Summers, who insisted that he master the art of returning the ball early. It was the only stroke Fred practiced for months. Finally, it integrated into his natural game play and began to devastate his opponents.

Fred Perry’s domination of British tennis began in 1933. He helped lead the Great Britain team to victory over France in the Davis Cup, the first victory in 21 years. The following year he won the Australian Open.

It was 1934 when Perry got his first Wimbledon title. Triumphing over Australian Jack Crawford in the men’s singles, he still faced many who saw him as “not one of us”. Journalists watching him defeat Crawford commented on the “strange lack of excitement” among spectators. Fred’s elation at taking the title turned to anger when he overheard a Wimbledon committee member talking to Crawford after the match, exclaiming, “This is one day when the best man didn’t win”.

Despite the social prejudice, Fred Perry went on to have his name inscribed on three consecutive Wimbledon titles, as well as major singles trophies in France, United States and Australia. Suffocated by the stifling class system and prejudice, within the English lawn tennis association, Fred left Britain to help form the professional tennis circuit in America. Leaving British tennis with a void it struggled to fill for many decades.

The 80 Year Signature Collection, was released on the 6th July, 80 years to the day that Fred Perry first triumphed at Wimbledon. See it online here.

One Stop

Head down to East London's Ridley Road Market Bar on the second Sunday of each month for One Stop; a new night playing Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae and Roots. Resident DJ's are joined by new guests each month.

Onestop

For more info you can visit the night's Facebook page, or for a sample of what's in store, visit One Stop on Mixcloud. The next event is on Sunday 11th May 2014.