RRB Photobooks, October 2021
Softcover, printed card
24 x 17 cm
First Edition of 600 copies
RRB Photobooks are pleased to present the publication 'Bristol Sounds' by Mark Simmons, published to coincide with an exhibition that took place during the autumn programme of Bristol Photo Festival in 2021.
The photographs chronicling Bristol’s music scene since the 1980's by Mark Simmons will go on display, many for the first time, as part of Bristol Photo Festival. Studio portraits of artists will be displayed alongside photographs capturing music events and venues across the city. Collectively, these photographs demonstrate the diversity and energy of music in and across Bristol during a period of great creativity.
Simmons revisited his archive of over one hundred thousand images — approximately 20 thousand focusing on music— to select 30 to represent the city’s recent musical heritage — both mainstream and counter-culture. The resulting selection includes early portraits of well-known figures such as Massive Attack and Roni Size & Reprazent alongside influential but less-well known figures such as John Stapleton, AKA Dr Jam, the Moonflowers, Sub Love, Phantom Limb and Rob Smith AKA RSD of Smith & Mighty, pivotal pioneer of the ‘Bristol Sound’.
Alongside these portraits, the collection includes images documenting deep house nights at Trinity, early Drum & Bass ‘Jungle’ sessions at Malcolm X, St Paul’s Carnival sound systems and street revelers, the crowds at Ashton Court Festival, and dance competitions at Easton Community Centre among others.
Simmons was most active on the music scene in the 1990's, working for club promoters, local and national magazines. As a result, many of the images in the exhibition were taken as professional commissions where Simmons would often stay for several hours to dance and immerse himself in the ambiance. Being a part of the collective experience gained him tacit acceptance to record these often unguarded and open portraits. In addition to his work documenting music, Simmons has worked as a photographer/photojournalist in the fields of the arts, community activity and wider political engagement.
“When taking (action) photos you’ve got to be in the eye of the storm to really capture that moment and Mark has always been that guy”
Daddy G (Massive Attack)