Being Young in Bradford

Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Lister Park

8 December 2020 – 2 April 2021 (pending national restrictions)

Drawing on the experiences of six residents who grew up during the vibrant music scene of 1970s Bradford, the exhibition celebrates the heritage of youth in the city and displays a range of personal collection items relating to Punk, Bradford bands, Sound System DJs, Scooters and Northern Soul.

The exhibition is a partnership between Bradford Museums & Galleries and Being Bradford – a group of working class mavericks that have organised themselves into a sort of artistic trade union and whose primary aim is to see their authentic story, told by themselves, feature in Bradford’s cultural narrative.

Being Young in Bradford

Our teenage years are a rich period of being creative and feeling passionately. The need to belong fuels us to find our own tribe to share interests or values. The desire to develop our own identities and to ‘be different’ often drives us to innovate and create new youth sub-cultures. 

Although Being Young in Bradford reflects the memories of the six, it’s just the start of the conversation. We want you to share your experiences of being young in Bradford and over time our gallery will evolve to reflect a wider spectrum.

With 30% of the Bradford population currently under the age of twenty, the significance of youth culture and its influences are more important than ever.

Perhaps in a more significant way than at any time since the 1970s, which saw power cuts, widespread labour strikes, and violence in Northern Ireland, social issues dominate our news. In 2020 we face a global health pandemic and the consequences of climate change following a decade of austerity. The ‘me too’ movement has forced society at large to confront gender inequalities and abuses against women. More recently Black Lives Matter has forced the issue of racial inequalities into the open.

What effect has all of this had on youth culture in Bradford today? Do identifiable youth tribes still exist as they did in the 70s and 80s? Did the Punk and DIY ethos to create positive change make a difference? Is there a legacy? Can one generation learn anything from the perspective of another? 

As Bradford bids to be the UK City of Culture in 2025 we are curious to discover: How does youth culture contribute to the unique identity of the district?

Contribute to the conversation via the hashtag  #BYiB, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or email rsvpcartwrighthall@bradford.gov.uk.

Our friends at BCB Radio have offered to record personal recollections, so if you prefer to speak rather than write your contribution please express an interest by emailing byib@bcbradio.co.uk.

During national restrictions social media will be used to provide a sneak preview of the show and to invite Bradford Residents to post about their own experiences of being a teenager in the city, starting with those growing up in the 1970s and 80s.