Thursday, 17 July 2014

Return of the Rudeboy, explores the 21st century resurgence of rudeboy culture.


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Dean Chalkley and Harris Elliott's London exhibition, Return of the Rudeboy, explores the 21st century resurgence of rudeboy culture. The show features some beautiful photographic prints, and we have one (above) to give away...

On display at Somerset House until August 25, Return of the Rudeboy offers a contemporary look a subculture which originated in Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1950s. Rudeboy style was a mix of sharp suits, shiny shoes, pork pie hats, skinny ties and swagger, but rudeboys were also associated with anti social behaviour, immortalised in songs such as The Wailers' Simmer Down and Stranger Coles' Rough and Tough. In the UK, the style influenced mod and skinhead culture, and was later associated with the 2 tone movement of the 1970s and 80s.

Today, Chalkley, a fashion photographer and Elliott, a creative director, say they have noticed a resurgance of rudeboy-inspired style on the streets of London. Their exhibition features photographs of over 60 impeccably dressed subjects, hailing from Europe and the US, shot in various London streets.

The exhibition also features mannequins dressed in rudeboy tailoring, installations made out of custom hatboxes and briefcases, a rudeboy barbershop and a soundtrack selected by the rudeboys featured. "It was imperative to us to ensure that visitors are able to embrace all aspects of the culture," say Elliott and Chalkley. "As a rudeboy, music is integral to your daily routine. The barber shop is an information hub...it is never simply a service station for having your hair cut," they add.
21st century rudeboys lack the notoriety of earlier generations, and the popularity of rudeboy-influenced clothing can be partly attributed to a growing interest in male grooming and tailoring, but Chalkley and Elliott dismiss the notion that it's merely a trend, describing rudeboys today as "defiant yet aspirational characters."
"To be 'rude' is more than just a fashion," they add. "The 21st century Rudeboy is, in a way, a subversive symbol of resistance...people are thinking that they want to regain their individuality, their right to present themselves in ways they want. Today's rudie appreciates and respects the past, and might incorporate certain elements in their look, but they are progressive, creative and forward thinking."


Alongside the show, Somerset House is hosting a series of rudeboy related film screenings, talks and Q&As, including a showing of 1972 film The Harder They Come on July 31 and documentary Duke Vin and the Birth of Ska in August.
To celebrate the exhibition's launch, Chalkley is giving away a photographic print (see top image) to one CR reader. One of only 50, it measures 50 x 70 cm and features rudeboys Shaka Maidoh and Sam Lambert.
To get your hands on the prize, all you need to do is tell us, in ten words or less, why you deserve to win, leaving your answer, name and email address in the comments section below. Points will be awarded to the most creative, rudeboy-inspired answers and the competition closes at midnight tonight (Thursday, July 17).
Return of the Rudeboy is open from 10am-6pm until August 25 at Somerset House, the Strand, London WC2R 1LA – see somersethouse.org.uk for details


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