It’s a spirit which Paul Bradshaw, founder of independent music magazine Straight No Chaser, and designer Swifty are trying to capture in new exhibition Word Sound Power: Reggae Changed My Life.
Ian Swift, or Swifty, has worked on The Face and art directed Straight No Chaser as well as designing the looks of Mo Wax, Talking Loud records and the design of countless flyers.
The heart of this exhibition comprises artworks, photography and archive material, but Swifty has also been making posters in the style of originals, and dummy speaker cases in homage to original soundsystems, while mounting photographs with huge bolts and applying graphics to plywood.
This is partly in response to a second wave of reggae which Swift remembers fondly – a post punk age of the Two Tone records era – although the exhibition is a broad church for ska, rocksteady, reggae, roots and dancehall.
Swifty says, ‘I’ve tried to reinterpret things graphically, in some cases, because they don’t exist anymore. There’s also a lot of original stuff, unseen photography, vintage memorabilia, flyers and fanzines as well.’
Our picks would be two maps created by Swifty, showing a history of soundsystems in London and the UK, starting with pioneer Duke Vin in 1954.
Word Sound Power: Reggae Changed My Life runs from 27 July – 22 October at The British Music Experience, The 02, London SE10