Since the age of eighteen, back in 1976, Paul Hartnett has painstakingly recorded street and club style. His portraits are a remarkable and fragile social document, a record of the inventive and excessive sides of youth.
'The idea of 'dressing up' has always been a fascination for me, from the early days of mods, rockers and the moonstompin' days of late 60s / early 70s skin'eads to the resourcefulness of Bowie fans, punks and the excesses of fashion students, ravers, fashionistas and clubland 'freaks'.'
Hartnett's compulsion to document the extremes of youth culture has always revolved around the themes of consumption, DIY decadence and conspicuous sexuality played out against an urban backdrop. His archive is represented by Jon Swinstead at PYMCA.
King Adz, author of Street Knowledge (Harper Collins): 'To be truly original, you can't just go into a shop and buy a look, you have to have an idea and carry it out. When someone actually creates an original look, they invariably start a scene. What Hartnett has done for close to forty years, since 1976, is document these scenes with the keen eye for spotting what's real and what's fake.'
Alix Sharkey, The Independent Magazine: 'Paul Hartnett's photographic work reflects the astonishing variety of self-expression that British club culture has witnessed since '76. His pictures are evidence of the way that night life has become a kind of cyberspace, where dreams and aspirations can be realised, and new identities assumed, if only for a few brief hours. It's arguable that images such as Hartnett's will soon be regarded as our real history, a genuine cultural tradition that one day might come to represent what is distinctly British.'