Martyn Goodacre’s Images of London Squat Culture, 1980s-90s

British Culture Archive

Martyn Goodacre is a renowned rock & roll photographer who captured many iconic bands and artists whilst working as a freelancer for the music press throughout the 1990s. 

Before his days travelling the world photographing some of the biggest names in music, Martyn was part of the large squatting community in London during the 1980s, and it was during this time that he first became interested in photography as he documented his surroundings.

Now living in Berlin, Martyn recently showcased a number of his images taken during this period at his exhibition ‘Who’s Fuckin Planet’.  The exhibition which opened in Berlin in February featured images from the new age traveller community, the squatting culture in the capital, protests and general life in London during the 1980s/90s.

Whos Fuckin Planet Exhibition Poster.
Whos Fuckin Planet Exhibition Poster.

It’s the year 2020. A year where the UK is faced with increasing austerity measures, a housing crisis that only seems to be accelerating and a big, blue, Tory shadow cast over the Isles. Rewind 30 years and the picture isn’t all that dissimilar.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, when house prices were soaring and public land was being auctioned off to make way for inscrutable developers, a number of small communities were hanging their home sweet home signs in abandoned warehouses, derelict properties, neglected council houses, empty plots of land and buses.

New age travellers, London, 1992.
New age travellers, London, 1992. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.

Some did it out of necessity, others preferred the communal lifestyle already kick-started by the hippies in the 60’s and 70’s, but most saw this as a form of protest. In 1984, with an unemployment rate of nearly 12% in the UK, it was inevitable that artists, musicians, students, the unemployed and immigrants would come together in a revolt against being homeless whilst gentrification, racism and homophobia loomed.

As somebody who occupied various squats in London (including the notorious Ambulance Station on Old Kent Road), Goodacre’s images are not voyeuristic but are instead a visual record from somebody who was at the centre of it all.

Gallery

Old Kent Road, 1982. Martyn: “This shot sets the time when London was still scuzzy, messy, dangerous and very exciting. You would never know what was round the corner, especially the Old Kent Road in 1982”. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Old Kent Road, 1982. “This shot sets the time when London was still scuzzy, messy, dangerous and very exciting. You would never know what was round the corner, especially the Old Kent Road in 1982”.
Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Albany Road, South East London, 1982. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Albany Road, South East London, 1982. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
New age travellers, London, 1992.
New age travellers, London, 1992. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Leon Greenman, Auschwitz survivor. London, 1980s.
Leon Greenman, Auschwitz survivor and anti-racism campaigner. London, 1980s. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Anti Nazi League Rally, Brixton, 1993.
Anti Nazi League Rally, Brixton, 1993. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Lady with no shoes, London, 1980s. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Lady with no shoes, London, 1980s. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Back To The Planet with police at Fordham Park, New Cross, London, 1993. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Back To The Planet with police at Fordham Park, New Cross, London, 1993. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
New age traveller on horseback, 1992.
New age traveller on horseback, 1992. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Old Kent Road London, 1987. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
Old Kent Road London, 1987. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
New Age Traveller, 1992. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
New Age Traveller, 1992. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
New Age Traveller, 1992.
New Age Travellers, 1992. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
The End. Kinglake Street, South East London, 1984. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.
The End. Kinglake Street, South East London, 1984. Photo © Martyn Goodacre.

Martyn Goodacre (b. almost 1964) is a British photographer living in Berlin and worried about Brexit. 

Martyn hopes to bring the exhibition to the UK once restrictions allow.

You can see more of Martyn’s music work on his website here and Instagram page here.

 

 

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British Culture Archive is a non profit independent resource set up to document 20th century culture and social change in the UK. In 2022 we plan to open our permanent gallery and exhibition space where we can showcase our People’s Archive alongside exhibitions from our featured photographers. 

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