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THIS WAS ENGLAND – ALL THE PHOTOS BY
©Gavin Watson/PYMCA I www.PYMCA.com

To coincide with the release of the film “This is England” by Shane Meadows, PYMCA had presented an exhibition of skinhead culture from the early 1980′s upon which the film which is based.

Containing the unique collection of Gavin Watson from the book ‘Skins’, this exhibition offers a unique insight into the lives of young members of this subculture in this turbulent era.

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GAVIN: (on the left) ‘I became a Skinhead because of the Music, and the attention I received especially from girls. I loved dancing, music and girls, and the Two Tone scene seemed to have it all. It totally spoke to me and about my environment one which was the new generation of the multi-cultural kids that were coming of age, Jamaicans, Irish, etc etc. It was also being a Skinhead that drew me to Oi! music because it was directly geared towards skinheads’.

Extracts from a book by Gavin Watson Oh What Fun We Had’

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MOVING TO THE BFI SOUTHBANK – COINCIDE WITH THE RELESE OF THE FILM THIS IS ENGLAND BY SHANE MEADOWS.

London passed down through bands like the Cockney Rejects. I remember being terrified of the East End for years thinking you were bound to get your head kicked in if you just as much got off the bus in Bethnal Green. We were carrot crunchers from the countryside; we believed that the Skins in London were the Hardest Mother Fuckers ever to walk the Earth. It became a disappointment to my friends and me that at the time Madness denied their skinhead roots out of fear of bad publicity. In fact the East End was the Skinheads spiritual home. I remember going to the Last Resort, London’s only pure skinhead shop at the time, with my Mum, Dad and NEVILLE. The sight of all those Monsters coupled with the Last Resorts’ sales methods (buy something, as you may not walk out of this shop Alive, Vibe) will stay with me for the rest off my life. My brother and I being tourists bought Skinhead T-shirts and were ecstatic at visiting a Skinhead Mecca .The real East End kids were the ones that were in Nick Knights book “SKINHEAD” a book I never really liked because I felt I had taken better photos even though I was only fifteen and also he wasn’t a real skin and jumping on the band wagon, sour grapes from my part really..

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One of the most upsetting times in my life is when we all went from primary school to Secondary and there seemed to be an instant split between the blacks and whites I realise now this was part of nature as we had to try and find our place in the world as young adults, but at the time I could not understand why people that I had loved dearly as a small child were now difficult to communicate with. There seemed to be an unsaid rule that blacks and whites could not get along at this age. We used to wear our Union Jack patches and the black guys would wear their Jah, back to Africa badges. The teachers were horrified at this, thinking we were the second coming of Third Reich.

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