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Ewen Spencer: While you Were Sleeping 1998 - 2000

Ewen Spencer: While you Were Sleeping 1998 - 2000

  • Editors Notes

    End of a century... In the late 1990s as a graduate from art school I began making pictures for my beloved Sleazenation magazine and in particular for the infamous listing pages to the rear of the magazine that were called "Savoir Vivre" (loosely translated as to know how to live!) The images were made in B&W and were immensely candid and full of characters that seems to be everywhere at that time. The images on the pages were essentially describing to those that liked to go clubbing what they actually looked like, what those in the provinces who desired the decadent lifestyle of the urban cool could eventually look like and for the international reader in the fashion capitals of Paris, Milan and Rome it kept them wondering what on earth was going on.

    London was at the epicentre of a cultural boom. Small clubs, parties and discos where a plenty in venues from North to South and I was in a minicab and night bus taking in 3-4 of an evening. My weekends were a write off and I slept most of Monday trying to recover...Here are the spoils for while my young son was sleeping I was involved in capturing a period in time that was filled with love, lust and messy authenticity, carefree and devoid of today's global, big tech cynicism.

    Nothing here was perceived or played out. It was done with wide eyed hope and wonder and I'm not sure we can ever return to this place or at least not for a good while. As my world as a photographer has expanded throughout the capitals of Europe and across the Atlantic shooting campaigns and fashion editorials for V magazine, POP and Vogue Hommes I can look at these pictures with perhaps some greater objectivity.

    My son, now in his early 20s sits beside me and discusses those times and how they differ from today as he negotiates the beginning of his creative journey. These pictures aren't about Teds, Skinheads, Northern Soul, Acid House or Jungle and Garage, they're not about Nu Metal or South London blackout clubs...but they are all here alongside high street carpet clubs because here in the UK we know how to throw a party, we work hard and play hard, grace under pressure, street style into high fashion To quote Ray Davies I ask, 'Where have all the good times gone'? I remain friends with many of the characters that were my colleagues at sleazenation at that time. Steve Beale and Justin Quirk were the irreverent editorial team eventually cherry picked by Emap and Conde Naste to become significant editors and creatives respectively.

    The Photo editor who gave me my break out of art school was Steve Lazarides who went on a few years later to represent and champion a graffiti artist called Banksy, The Magazines firebrand designer was for a while Scott King who immediately won awards for his controversial front covers and designs. I clearly remember meeting Wolfgang Tillmans at one of his exhibition openings in Herald Street in what must have been 1999. He raved about the pictures we had been making for the magazine and enjoyed the overall subversive sentiment.

    I was enthused and still am to this day. I'd suggest many of these collaborators to work alongside one another to help articulate and visualise this group of pictures into a book. Most of the images have never been seen before and I believe an international audience would be hungry for the authenticity found in an era that perhaps should have known better.

    I'm glad we didn't .

    176 pages, Illustrated throughout; 130 Illustrations, color

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