Derek Ridgers 80’s book launch

I hadn’t gone to the launch of ‘In The Eighties, the ninth or tenth book by Derek Ridgers intending to take pictures, but to celebrate the occasion and meet up with him again. But I had my camera bag with me, as I’d been in Brixton photographing a protest there against London’s excessive air pollution – it took only 5 days to exceed the annual pollution limit on the Brixton Rd.

But on entering the The Library Space (built in 1910 as the Edwin Tate Library, Grade II listed and now a cultural space hosting workshops, exhibitions etc) I just had to take some pictures of the place and the event – as too did many others of those present.

And I also bought the book – and of course got Derek to sign it – and I photographed him signing for several others.

It’s a book packed with portraits, and with a few pages of introduction, concentrating on the developments in club and youth culture which Derek’s work concentrates on. Although central to much of his work, its an approach that I think rather minimises the value of his work. Yes, he documented the London scene, in the clubs and on the streets, but the strength of his work is not really what he did but the way that he did it, the reflection of his personality and his intent vision.

People look up at Derek’s pictures going around on a strip around the ceiling

And study the book

Of course there is interest in the people he photographed, their clothes, their hair styles, their make-up and their behaviour. But that isn’t what makes this work stand out above much other photography of the era dealing with similar subjects.

In The Eighties by Derek Ridgers, published by Carpet Bombing Culture, ISBN 978-1908211569

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