For a lot of boys, each evolving new youth movement often boiled down to the same things; license to drink lots, hang out with your mates lots and have a bit of fight – each with a different era appropriate soundtrack, of course.
As far back as Teds, where boys got to get a new haircut and a sharp new suit, girls got to stand around and watch, as long as they looked pretty. Or Mods, where this time everyone got a new haircut, girls had a slightly improved bit part, but boys still got to drink, pop pills, ride around on scooters in parkas… and possibly have another fight. And so on via football, punk, two tone, britpop, and almost everything in between. But like we’ve said before, after Punk there was another almost silent revolution going on…
By the late 1970s, girls suddenly got much more than a spectator seat, Punk and Post-Punk created opportunities for girls to be not just equal players in the proceedings, but to develop their own bands and develop their own take on counter culture. There was some kind of a shift, where we no longer thought of ourselves as accessories or as a garnish to Pop Culture proper, we were involved, we were there, and we were going to make up our own rules.
Someone else who was there, was photographer Anita Corbin, who had the foresight to spend the early 1980s capturing pairs of girls on film. She could feel this palpable new sense of fun, fashion and authenticity, which were being expressed through clothes, music, friends and chosen environments, as well.
In the original literature for the exhibition Anita writes,
“In this project I turned my attention to more personal visual details and I became increasingly interested in the effect appearances have on everybody’s lives. The way we use dress as a means of communication/identification and how it can both inform and misinform us. I have chosen to focus on girls, not that the boys (where present) were any less stylish, but because girls in ‘subcultures’ have been largely ignored or when referred to, only as male appendages”.
Taking her photographs in bedrooms, stations, toilets, bars and clubs, Anita set out to capture the looks of the girls right at the point when the girls stopped looking like “pretty” spectators, stopped merely ape-ing the boys looks. They had invented a fashion and culture that was staunchly female, and with no wordy explanations, her photos document their styles and their expressions perfectly.
Anita originally collected these images into a body of work called “Visible Girls”, which alongside a set of “revisited” portraits is currently on a UK tour and can currently be seen at Edinburgh’s Summerhall from now until December 21st 2018. More details, stories and other exhibition dates HERE.