Splash & Grab


Brian David Stevens – Sound Systems




I took the original set of Sound System photographs in 2004, I rose early and walked the streets of Notting Hill before the human mass of the carnival arrived. I’d always lived in West London since moving to the capital about 25 years ago, so the streets were well known to me both through experience and through the photographs of Roger Mayne, the post-war photographer whose pictures I loved as a child.


I paid for university by working as a roadie in the west midlands, so I ended up with a love for speaker stacks. The ones you see at the carnival are hand built; beautiful looking systems. By shooting very early you remove the context of the sound system and can see them as sculptural forms in their own right, imposing in the empty streets, alien and sometimes threatening, but always interesting. Modern monoliths, new henges, places of worship. They are the building blocks on which the Carnival is constructed.


In 2016 I was shooting some speakers for a book project about British bass culture with the writer Joe Muggs. Due to the rain many of the systems were covered by tarpaulins I thought it would be great to reprise the series showing both covered and uncovered systems to really emphasise the sculptural qualities and shapes. I see them as forms, sculptures, I tend to produce work in series or sets. I’ve experimented with the print of these images, traditional high quality photographic prints, risographs, screen prints. Each process brings something new and unique.


A box set of screen prints is available from Tartaruga Press together with individual screen prints from the series.

Max Ferguson