Skins and Sharps

Kustom Lane Gallery in Hawthorne last Sunday launched an exhibition showcasing the Sharps and Skins subculture that was unique to Melbourne in the seventies. Through the crush of those who lived it and those who venerate you can find an ultimate collection of the movement’s paraphernalia, put together with loving care by Sam Biondo.

The space creates a snap-fast immersion into a subculture that venerated the likes of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and sparked yet another media storm over the moral turpitude of ‘the youth today’. Through the Rose Tattoo album covers and proud sartorial displays, this exhibition makes a nostalgic smile play on the lips of every quiff sporting Sharpie, Skinhead and rocker with that distinctive Melbourne pride.

The exhibition, featuring artists such as Steven Pricter and David Mellows, sports sketches and paintings of the proponents of the movement, revelling in a homemade quality that is the essence of any lasting subculture. The hair, the shoes, and in this case the cardigans, are no laughing matter when it comes to showcasing your style and affiliations. Alongside the sketches are raised shoes, newspaper articles and album covers that all had some association with a movement that was seen as, and did have, a brutish side to it, with violent clashes between the gangs leading to the subculture’s ultimate demise. Most interesting is a collection of potboiler novels featuring Skins and Sharps, their covers with dangerous looking youths on them staring out at you through the glass cabinets.

This show is certainly a labour of love, and the attention to detail is infectious. By the end you’ll find yourself squint eyed, carefully studying the magazine articles and music charts as much as the veterans who were actually there.

Beat Magazine, July 7th Issue, 2010

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