The Northern Soul Scene - Sarah Raine

The Northern Soul Scene - Sarah Raine

Photographic Dossier (1)

The Northern Soul Scene - Sarah Raine

John Barrett [+-]
John Barrett has been documenting the UK soul scene with the aim of capturing the personal identities and obsessions of this endearing sub-culture. These gritty images of the northern soul artistes, dancers, fashion and lifestyles provides a fascinating insight into the one of the most idiosyncratic dance scenes, which continues to survive, uninterrupted since the 1960’s.


My intention as an artist and photographer is always to impart some form of narrative about what I am observing. The notion of the photographer as storyteller and narrator engenders creative encounters and challenges that in turn provide a structuring theme. The process for the accumulating photographs of the northern soul scene naturally assimilated the stories and memories of those involved. The photographic project aimed to represent the energetic experience and compulsive behaviour of soul fans. The unity of the participants was almost a form of ‘brotherhood’ and the rallying cry of ‘Keeping the Faith’ joined ‘soulies’ together in a unique and compelling manner. I was fascinated by the intertwining of a bond of friendship that linked the soul fraternity both in the UK and abroad. This record of the soul scene was undertaken through my experiences, knowledge and memory of the subjects I was trying to capture. I had been going to soul events intermittently throughout my life, but had lost touch with the scene. When I began to explore recording the scene in the late 1990’s, I was searching for a means to document this quintessential British subject. The warm acceptance of my project was due to my enthusiasm for the music, fashion and identity of the scenes participants. As I already knew the music and dance, I could predict the movement on the dance floor to capture the decisive moment of the dancers. As a photographer, these ‘soul’ images represent a moment in time and a fantastic insight into the lives of a massively diverse range of people that meet under the umbrella of soul. For those that I have photographed within the scene, I believe that they came to trust my judgement to capture the spirit of the scene.

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Barrett, John. Photographic Dossier (1). The Northern Soul Scene. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 174-178 Feb 2019. ISBN 9781781795583. Date accessed: 03 Dec 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38274. Feb 2019

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