Rock Against Racism

Our latest exhibition opens on Saturday 14 March. Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism explores the musical movement through the key years between 1976 and 1981. Syd Shelton spent time capturing the movement through photography and this important display of his work captures the spirit of the times. The exhibition revisits the energy of Rock Against Racism and the creative alliances that were formed through different genres of music in order to discourage young people from embracing racism.

Under the slogan ‘Love Music, Hate Racism’, the movement showcased reggae and punk bands on the same stage across the UK which attracted large multicultural audiences. The display of photos dive into the movement ‘Rock Against Racism’ (RAR), which was formed by musicians and politicians to confront racist ideology in the streets, parks and town halls of Britain during a time of racial tensions.

Over the span of his career Syd Shelton has photographed famous performers such as The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Au Pairs, The Specials and protests such as the Anti National Front Demonstration in Lewisham in 1977. Syd Shelton will be talking at a special event in the exhibition on Saturday 16 May. He will be joined by Bernie Wilcox whose fascinating film about the Manchester Rock Against Racism event also features in the exhibition.

Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “The Rock Against Racism movement was such an important part of history as it helped bring people of different races together to stamp out racial abuse through the love of music. The performances and gigs showcased different genres in one place including reggae, soul, rock’n’roll, jazz, funk and punk, breaking down barriers for all races. We have come on leaps and bounds in stamping out racism since the 70s and 80s, but sadly racism still exists in 2020 and should not be tolerated in any form – virtually or physically.

Autograph have created this touring exhibition and it will be at Gallery Oldham between Saturday 14 March and Saturday 30 May 2020