Let's Play Vinyl: National touring exhibition

Posted by pt91 at Sep 14, 2017 04:09 PM |
The new, diverse generation of UK reggae sound systems are to be celebrated and explored as part of a new exhibition, starting in Black History Month.

Issued by Attenborough Arts Centre in September 2017

The rich history of UK sound systems from the 1950s to the 1990s has been widely documented in books, films, documentaries and exhibitions, but little has been recorded about the new generation of sound systems. The exhibition – launching in Leicester this October during Black History Month – uses portraiture and interviews to shine a light on some of these new, more diverse, sound systems, which are pushing through the traditions of reggae and vinyl.

The emergence of more female sound system operators is one of the defining characteristics of the new generation, with women moving on from being predominantly performers with male sounds, to building, operating and managing their own sounds.  April ‘Rusty Rebel’ Grant, operator of Birmingham’s Rebel Rock sound, takes it all in her stride. “At dances, men often say: ‘What are you doing with those records?’ It feels fabulous to shock them,” she says. “When I hold a piece of vinyl I think about all the work that has gone into it – especially if it’s an artist that’s no longer here – and I think about how amazing it is that it’s all on this piece of plastic, and the technical process of getting it on there.”

The show also explores how sound systems and the reggae scene are becoming more diverse in terms of ethnicity, and how a love of vinyl is being carried through by the new generation of soundmen and women, despite technological advances and the popularity of digital formats.

Let's Go Yorkshire – an organisation that focuses on aspects of cultural heritage largely unrecorded by the mainstream – has curated the exhibition following the positive response to their previous exhibitions documenting the original pioneers of reggae sound system from Huddersfield, Bristol, Birmingham and London.

Martyn Haigh, Director of Let’s Go Yorkshire, says: “The contemporary exhibition captures the spirit of the next generation of UK soundmen and women who are carrying on what previous generations started. We have commissioned photographer Elliot Baxter to take a series of portraits to bring together a visually stunning exhibition of talented sound system operators, saluting them as productive entrepreneurs, creating their own arts ecology in modern day Britain.”

The exhibition launches in the Balcony Gallery at Attenborough Arts Centre (part of the University of Leicester) on Saturday 14 October 2017, where it will remain on show until Friday 24 November 2017. From there it will travel to:

  • Stuart Hall Building at Goldsmiths University of London, Wednesday 10 January – Monday 12 February 2018
  • Parkside Building at Birmingham City University, Wednesday 21 March – Thursday 5 April 2018
  • Creative Arts Building at the University of Huddersfield, Thursday 10 May – Friday 29 June 2018

Sam West, Visual Arts Officer at the Attenborough Arts Centre, said: “We are really excited and proud to launch this touring exhibition that celebrates the diversity of the new generation of sound system operators. Leicester is home to a thriving music scene and the exhibition really is a must-see for our cultural city.

On Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October we invite audiences to participate in our hands-on workshops including ‘How to build a sound system’, Toasting workshops and the opportunity to bring along and play your own vinyl on our sound system.”

The exhibition forms part of the Let’s Play Vinyl National Tour developed by Let’s Go Yorkshire in partnership with the University of Leicester; Goldsmiths, University of London; Birmingham City University; and the University of Huddersfield.



For further information or to set up an interview please contact Mandeep Samra, Curator/ Project Manager + 44 7793 047 220 | Letsgoyorks@yahoo.com

The Let’s Play Vinyl National Tour is supported by Arts Council England and Kirklees Council.

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About Attenborough Arts Centre

The University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre prides itself on being accessible and inclusive. With over 20 years of experience, the programme offers courses and workshops, contemporary art, performance and live art, theatre and comedy, live music and jazz, dance, activities for children and families, and more. It is proud to champion emerging talent and disability-led performance companies, supporting those starting their careers. Its outstanding access and inclusive work has been recognised, through multiple awards and grants from Arts Council England, British Council, BBC Children in Need, Leicester Shire Promotions and Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Its audience has grown to 109,000 people over the last year.

Attenborough Arts Centre is part of the University of Leicester’s Division of External Relations. Its new exhibition programme will significantly contribute to the University’s corporate social responsibility, wider public engagement and strategic research goals. It will specifically explore issues of human identity and inter-cultural interactions, promote inter-discipline, attract high-calibre collaborators, and encourage new imaginative approaches that culminate in exhibition projects.

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