During the early 2000s, the UK saw an brief albeit intense eruption of rave culture, that then bled into a mindset of protesting that only those that were in the thick of it would know the extremities of what went down. Photographer Matthew Smith was one such person that was amidst it all, and thanks to his quick fingers and keen eye, we’re now made privy to the forefront of UK’s rave and protest culture.
“I love this picture because it shows their relief and joy to be in their safe space after spending days trying to fight for the right to be there.”
The period itself can be summed up with Castlemorton’s 10th Anniversary Free Festival that happened back in 2002, where 10,000 people gathered in unison to dance like never before for a good full week, all under the musical guidance of bands such as Spiral Tribe, Bedlam, Circus Warp and DIY. The free festival also happened to have fallen on the same week as the 50th Anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, so while the country urged its people to celebrate, the law were scrambling to squash the already going on celebration at Castelmortons and its “community that openly rejected mainstream hypocritical authority.”
What you’ll see in the gallery–specifically the first image–is a unique documentation of that time, and more specifically the spirit of those that “fought in groups big and small for days to stay in that field,” tells Smith to Dazed Digital, who then adds, “I love this picture because it shows their relief and joy to be in their safe space after spending days trying to fight for the right to be there.” Check out more of Matthew Smith’s images in the gallery above.