We Were Here 79-89 is the title of the new book from Gavin Watson and to fund the project Gavin has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
The book tells the story of Gavin’s teenage years in the 1980s, from the time when as a fourteen year old skinhead he first picked up the camera and began to record his world.
“At first, I was just a shy, dreamy kid taking pictures of landscapes and my cat. It was only when Madness and the skinhead thing…the Two Tone thing started that I really began to take lots of pictures.”
He photographed wherever he went, at home, at school, in the streets of the estate where he lived, and whoever he met, his family, friends, girlfriends and in so doing created an extraordinary social document. Its importance has already been widely recognised. For example, the film maker Shane Meadows has acknowledged Gavin’s work and cites it as a visual reference and inspiration for ‘This is England’
“I’m not a skinhead or a punk photographer” says Gavin, “I’m a DIY photographer. Back then I was using a camera without having any real knowledge of what I was doing. So I just did what felt natural, by instinct, by myself. I processed the stuff in the bathroom. That was the point. That still is the point about the work. Doing it for yourself. THAT’S FUCKIN’ PUNK.”
“I didn’t feel my photographs were important but I felt that what was happening around me was unbelievably important and exciting. I was just amazed that we were demonised instead of celebrated,” he told us recently. “I managed to record my journey, which was thousands of kids’ journeys, all kids’ journeys, and that’s what the work shows really. Those relationships. They’re just young teenage kids trying to find their way in life.”
What makes We Were Here 79-89 so exciting is that for the first time Gavin has been a part of the entire creative process and has edited the selection of images himself; this is Gavin’s story told in his own way.
This book is also going to be produced at a higher quality than anything we have seen from Gavin before, presenting these photos in the way that such a legacy deserves.
To find out more about the project go to the We Were Here 79-89 Facebook page and to the Kickstarter to really get involved.