Just as with Jamie Reid’s DIY aesthetic for the Punk scene or Peter Saville’s understated minimalism for Joy Division, the work of one designer can define the visual identity of a band or genre, firmly stamping themselves in the music’s visual imprint.
So too with photographer Shaun Bloodworth and designer Stuart Hammersley (aka Give Up Art), who have together defined the identity one of the UK’s prime Grime and Dubstep institutions Rinse FM. An exhibition of the pair’s work opened last night at the Truman Brewery on London’s Brick Lane, and will continue until 22 August.
Rinse started as a pirate station 15 years ago, playing mainly Grime, UK Garage, and Jungle from its east London tower block HQ, before moving to FM in 2010 after it was granted a community license. It has spawned numerous club nights and compilation records, including the Dubstep Allstars series (widely considered to have cemented the term to name the emerging genre), and given the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, and more recently Katy B, a much needed leg up into mainstream exposure.
Whether promotional material for nights, album art work or press imagery, Bloodworth and Give Up Art have been at the helm of Rinse’s distinctive identity since its inception. Give Up Art created Rinse’s chunky ‘R’ logo and the first flyer for famed affiliate night Forward, in stark contrast, as music commentator Martin Clark points out, to the glam of UK Garage. Rinse’s simple typographic and geometry-led artwork is instantly recognisable, so much so that it’s difficult to imagine Grime or Dubstep artists being packaged any other way.
Bloodworth’s broody, gritty photography is the perfect accompaniment to Give Up Art’s colourful simplicity. Showing artists in the urban recesses of the city, Bloodworth has done much to keep Dubstep artists visually down-to-earth and rooted, far from the gloss of R&B and the pimp of Hip-hop. Roska’s t-shirt may read money but his portrait does not.
The exhibition offers a ‘who’s who’ into the Grime and Dubstep scene and Rinse fan or not, Bloodworth’s photography is certainly worth a look. Highlights include a expertly captured Falty DL contorting his backward eyes and fag to the sky, and a super close-up of Skream featuring every hair follicle, pre-Magnetic Man fame.
Rinse Presents a Visual Retrospective runs until 22 August at Truman Brewery Gallery, Shop 14, Hanbury Street, London E2.