Friday, November 4, 2016
Beer was Burton’s gift to the world.
But lately Burton had been feeling really sad that (some) people had forgotten about its sublimely perfect brewing water and incredible brewing prowess so we decided to do something about it.
We got on the phone and called our favourite ex-skinhead photographer to ask whether he could get under the skin of our brewing town.
Famous for his iconic book ‘Skins’, Gavin Watson’s photographs taken of his friends during an intense period of his life as a skinhead in the late 70s and 80s have defined his life and brilliant career. He reputedly inspired Shane Meadows of ‘This is England’ fame with his brutally candid depiction of the fashion, music and lives of working class kids.
Up he came to Burton with his camera and a few colleagues to stay for a few days and get a feel for the place. They scouted the streets of the town for likely models; people who were born and bred, living or working in Burton. Without realising it, many of the models involved had direct or indirect links to beer and brewing.
Gavin observed: “It’s in the blood; in the water. If you’re going to live, grow and die in this town you’re going to be connected to brewing in some way. You can sense it as soon as you get off the train.”
His brief was to capture the spirit of Burton – making it look dramatic but as real as possible – and what it is to live and breathe in this town. Ordinary life in everyday situations played out in Gavin’s honest portrayals.
He continued: “I never think about what I’ll shoot until the camera is in my hand. You have to have a rapport with people. If I don’t make friends with my subjects or don’t get a connection with them – from the gayest of hairdressers to the surliest of models – then it doesn’t work. I just talk all the time and take photos while we’re chatting. I’ll see a bit of light and take the photo and then carry on talking.”
It turned out that Gavin can’t half talk.
He’s not bad at photography either.