Quietly simmering gently for over a decade Jon Swinstead of PYMCA has skillfully collected together work by the best of national and international photographers with a passion for street and club culture.
Swinstead’s paced strategy has been to save potentially sinking cultural treasure that deserves global recognition. Year-by-year staff such as Jamie Brett reach their white-gloved tentacles into the most unexpected sections of society in search of insightful visual documentation by all manner of photographers and writers, delivering style heritage with substance. Such work is then swooped upon by curators, making a ‘street’ to V&A step look so easy.
The PYMCA site is a visual beehive, swarming with picture editors in search of images from the dawn of Photography to now. Alongside industry insiders from the world of Advertising to Music, there are students of Fashion Design, Photography and Fashion-related areas such as Styling and PR, clicking through the vast Education section; style stalking in amongst every youth tribe that I will not list here as it is so extensive. From Teds to… you get the picture.
Swinstead and his team seek out the most seductive aspect of style: the unexpected. It is the originators and innovators that form the solid backbone to the archive, with the focus extending to early adopters that makes fashion forecasting companies appear to be somewhat lagging along with early mainstreamers.
Sure, in amongst sections that explore and reflect everything from forty years of PUNK to strutting peacocks on the cobbles of Somerset House during the feeding frenzy of Fashion Week, there’ll be the inclusion of normcore, but such images are always selected with a certain eye.
It is the resourcefulness of youth that excites Swinstead, from one style cycle to the one that quickly emerges as a consequence, or angry reaction to. The meticulous archiving of youth culture is vital, essential, as such momentary history is vulnerable, at risk of being lost.
No gallery, as yet, exists for the collecting of such material anywhere in the world. No gallery, as yet, regularly hosts work by photographers such as Ray Stevenson, Janette Beckman, Derek Ridgers, Caroline Coon, Gavin Watson, Sheila Rock or the new wave of photographers, such as Molly Macindoe and Dean Davies of TRIP magazine.
PYMCA is of value and global importance in terms of the vast strata of social and fashion history that it holds. Whilst digital files are of immediate commercial use to television networks and publishers such as Phaidon, Laurence King and Harper Collins, it is the Fine Art work of printers such as Bob Wiskin (Grade One Photographic), Debbie Sears (Debbie Sears In Black & White) and Peter Guest (The Image) that collectors are now excitedly investing in and knocking on the door of PYMCA’s office to get their white gloves upon.
PYMCA, a mix of ingredients… simmering away quietly for over a decade… now ready to serve.