A photographic exploration of Young Northern Soulies in Birmingham and the Midlands
27 January – 24 February 2017
Coming to Parkside Gallery this January is the work of Birmingham-based independent photographer Bethany Kane and Sarah Raine, a researcher for the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. They have documented the underground northern soul scene in Birmingham and the West Midlands through what Raine describes as a “curated collection of photographs, audio, memorabilia and scene insider accounts.”
The exhibition takes its name from the 1967 hit track, All Because of You, by The Dramatics. A true classic, it is a must-listen for anyone interested in this pivotal period of music and culture. You can listen to the track below…
The exhibition has a focus on the younger ‘Soulies’ on the scene, which has been achieved through ethnographic studies of Northern Soul in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Raine has been awarded a rare insight into the social mechanics of this secretive cultural movement, which is firmly underground within the wider music scene.
A 19-year old Birmingham-based Soulie called Nancy said the scene had been crucial to shaping her personal identity…
“Before [finding] Northern Soul…the clothes I [would] wear, I felt like it wasn’t me and I never really knew why… I just felt like I didn’t belong here. I didn’t really like people’s opinions on stuff and I didn’t like listening to the music they listened to. I didn’t know what was out there for me and then after my first all-nighter, I just felt like a completely different person, that I’d finally found who I was and that’s all down to the music.”
I can personally identify with Nancy as I felt the same before I experienced the beauty and vibrancy of the Northern Soul music scene. I couldn’t relate to what people my age were doing and experiencing, I knew I liked Motown and Soul but there was something missing. There’s something about the music and the passion of the people that surround you within a Northern Soul event, you can be yourself – or anyone you want to be. I feel that it is so important to listen to young people, to their stories, memories and experiences within this city and within wider society. I feel this to be the crux of the exhibition, as there has been a real care and concern for how this is affecting young people.
As Raine has said: “This exhibition aims to explore how these young people place themselves within the dominant ways of seeing the scene, and how they make their engagement meaningful as both a Northern Soulie and a young person in the 21st century.”
Here at Parkside Gallery we are getting ready for the upcoming show. To follow our progress you can access our social media below, and that of AllBecauseofNS …
Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research www.bcmcr.org
Bethany Kane http://www.bethanykane.co.uk
Leanne O’Connor is a Fine Artist, Curator and Collaborator based in Birmingham, UK. She works as a Marketing and Exhibitions Assistant here at Parkside gallery, and is in her final year on the BA (Hons) Fine Art Course at Birmingham School of Art.