100 Years of Youth Culture

70s Carpets and Goths on rocks - Mac Benson tells us a little about their Youth Culture archiving project

In 2022 I had the pleasure of working with the Museum of Youth Culture to collect and exhibit images of youth culture in Cumbria from the past 100 years. The project was an amazing way to explore the diverse history of subcultures in Cumbria, to listen to stories of the past and take a look into forgotten worlds.

It was important to me to represent alternative people in our archiving and to show that the county has a rich history of Punk, Skate, Ravers, Rockers and the like. All of this combined with the amazing interiors, fashion and designs from past decades make the images a real experience to uncover. Of course, it was really important for me to collect images of queer culture, so they are preserved from future generations to explore in the same way.

I want to document queer history in Cumbria as I feel it’s important to continue to highlight forgotten stories and voices that have been a critical part of helping under-represented groups feel seen and heard. In a region which last year reported some of the lowest statistics of openly queer identifying individuals, this project serves as a reminder that though we might not have “strength in numbers’ in comparison to the bigger, more culturally relevant regions in the UK, there has been and will continue to be people from a wide variety of cultures and identities deserves to be highlighted.

Archiving queer history is also important as it helps us to tell and preserve the stories of those who were previously unable to, forced as many queer people still are today into underground spaces, away from mainstream society, or in worse cases completely unable to live lives on the outside that reflected their inner worlds, their expression, gender and sexuality.

This is a small edit of images from the collection being kept by the Museum of Youth Culture and although we have chosen some that we know represents queer people, others simply represent those from the past who stood for unapologetic individuality. The link to the whole collection can be found at the end of the article.

Words Mac Benson

Images donated by local people from Cumbria for Museum of Youth Culture.

Click below to be redirected to the Museum of Youth Culture.

Cumbria Youth Culture by Free Radicals Art