Art of the Terraces | Football, fashion and art

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For so many, football will always be synonymous with other subcultures; fashion, music, art, all come into play. 

For those, it was never just about 22 blokes (or women) kicking a ball about. It was about a sense of community and belonging. It was about the lifestyle. It’s was about having an identity. 

Casual kids at Wanstead Common, Wanstead, East London 7 June 1983
Casual kids at Wanstead Common, East London 7 June 1983. © David Corio

Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery has announced a ground-breaking new exhibition combining fashion, football and art, as told from the terraces of the stadiums.

Simply called, ‘Art of the Terraces’, the exhibition runs from 5th November 2022 to 12th March 2023, and is the first major exhibition to tell the story of a movement that defined sports culture of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, and has had a lasting impact on football fashion and culture to this day. 

Art of the Terraces exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. © Robin Clewley

This pioneering exhibition considers the culture of football ‘casuals’, which began on Britain’s football terraces in the late 1970s.  By the 80s, football’s casual culture was at its peak. Violence on the terraces was escalating as groups of supporters tried to out to one another. But with it they sported a smart casual look that was being adopted by fans up and down the county. 

Liverpool fans in Munich, 1981 Original photograph Copyright Dave Hewitson
Liverpool fans in Munich, 1981. © Dave Hewitson
Early Casuals fashions_ Paris 1981_ copyright Dave Hewitson
Liverpool fans in Paris, 1981. © Dave Hewitson

“This wasn’t just a group of kids following fashion and wearing the latest trends, these kids were creating their own trends and style. The clothes, the attitude and ultimately the match defined the culture.”

Dave Hewitson
©Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. © Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
© Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
A recreation of an 1980s bedroom. © Robin Clewley

Through photography and art, ‘Art of the Terraces’ turns the focus on the clothing brands and sports footwear, music and encounters between rival groups of football supporters which defined an era and generation.  

Pauline Rushton, Head of Decorative Arts at National Museums Liverpool, said: “It’s been our ambition for a long time to hold an exhibition of this kind at the Walker. Terrace culture originated among football fans here in the North West in the 1970s, and it’s difficult to overemphasise quite how far-reaching its influence has become.

“We’ll consider the highs and lows of going to the match, and the sense of identity and belonging that could be discovered and signalled to others through wearing a certain pair of trainers or branded sports top.”

Art of the Terraces exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. © Robin Clewley
Square Gogh by Ross Muir on display at the exhibition. © Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. © Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. © Robin Clewley

Dave Hewitson, exhibition partner and creator of the 80s Casuals website and clothing brand, said: “This wasn’t just a group of kids following fashion and wearing the latest trends, these kids were creating their own trends and style. The clothes, the attitude and ultimately the match defined the culture.”

Pete McKee - Stand
Stand. © Pete McKee
Art of the Terraces
Works by Pete McKee. © Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
Works by Jens Wagner. © Robin Clewley
Untitled, 80sCasuals Jamie Pike
Untitled, 80sCasuals. © Jamie Pike

“To be asked , “Where d’ya get yer trainees from?” was the ultimate accolade… It meant you were up there with the fashion dictators and trendsetters…”

Dave Hewitson
NIKE WAFFLE TRAINER BY DAVE WHITE 51cm x 41cm Oil on Canvas (Private Collection - Photo Courtesy of the Artist)
Nike Waffle trainer by Dave White. © Dave White
Art of the Terraces
They Think It’s All Over by Mark Wallinger. © Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
They Think It’s All Over by Mark Wallinger. © Robin Clewley

The story of the movement, its wider significance in British and European popular culture and its artistic legacy will be told through more than 100 paintings, photographs, graphic designs and fashion items, as well as video and installation art. 

The Grim North, Jens Wagner
The Grim North. © Jens Wagner

This movement created a whole new approach to fashion, which still inspires brand loyalty today, and has attracted a new generation of fans of retro and classic sportswear and footwear. National Museums Liverpool is the first British museum to present the story of this sub-culture, which has had significant and far-reaching influence. 

Sportswear Nomads II, painted in 2020 By Seana Gavin (born 1977) Photographic collage and paint on canvas  Copyright Seana Gavin
Sportswear Nomads II, painted in 2020 By Seana Gavin. © Seana Gavin
Girl with the Hoop Earing, Ross Muir.
Girl with the Hoop Earing. © Ross Muir.
Bowie, Ross Muir.
Bowie. © Ross Muir.
Square Gogh, Ross Muir.
Square Gogh. © Ross Muir.
England fans arrive outside the Kaliningrad Hotel 
Part of the series The FIFA World Cup, Russia, 2018 
By Tim Vyner (born 1963)
Print on archival paper 

Copyright Tim Vyner
England fans arrive outside the Kaliningrad Hotel. Part of the series The FIFA World Cup, Russia, 2018, by Tim Vyner. © Tim Vyner
Harrow Road, Liverpool 5, 1999
From the series Posts / Playing Away, 1996 onwards
By Neville Gabie (born 1959)
Photographic print
Copyright Neville Gabie
Harrow Road, Liverpool 5, 1999 From the series Posts / Playing Away, 1996 onwards By Neville Gabie. © Neville Gabie
Kevin Sheedy’s goal, Everton v Rapid Vienna, European Cup Winners’ Cup Final, Rotterdam,1985 From The Subeauties Series, made in 2021-22 By Marcus Reed (born 1972) Hand-finished digital print Copyright Marcus Reed
Kevin Sheedy’s goal, Everton v Rapid Vienna, European Cup Winners’ Cup Final, Rotterdam,1985. From The Subeauties Series, made in 2021-22 by Marcus Reed. © Marcus Reed
Malmö, featuring the city’s Turning Torso skyscraper From the City Series, created in 2012 By Marcus Reed (born 1972) Hand-finished digital print Copyright Marcus Reed
Malmö, featuring the city’s Turning Torso skyscraper From the City Series, created in 2012 by Marcus Reed. © Marcus Reed
Art of the Terraces
Quodlibet by Lucy McKenzie © Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
© Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
© Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
© Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
© Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
© Robin Clewley
Art of the Terraces
© Robin Clewley

What’s more, it’s a ‘pay what you think’ exhibition. If visitors enjoy ‘Art of the Terraces’, they can pay what they think is appropriate, to support Liverpool museums and art galleries. Check out more here.

If you enjoyed that, you may also like Pompey Casuals in pictures, where we speak to lifelong Pompey fan Jake Payne about the culture, lifestyle and fashions of Portsmouth fans in the 70s and 80s.

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