Heroes, just for one day:
A photographic archive of subculture, love and belonging

  • Amelia Boston

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This research makes a formal analysis of a photographic collection belonging to Yvonne Taylor and Dennis Sheldrick, now named ‘Miles and Other’s Smile’s’, made between 1978 and 1984. The importance of image and historical context is at the centre of this thesis and relates directly to the movements Taylor and Sheldrick were involved with such as Northern Soul, Punk, Glam Rock, and finally the New Romantics. The pair’s social background culture and gender, along with
their reliance on the ‘look’, is used to understand their thinking, feeling and group behaviour. This behaviour is predominantly aligned to the ritual thinking of sociologist Maurice Bloch, firstly ‘deference’ (Bloch, 2008) to analyse their reliance on participation and sense of belonging and, secondly, the ‘Transcendental Social’ (Bloch, 2008), and ‘making special’ (Dissanayake, 1988) to understand the act of photography and the transformations which resulted.

The research is derived from discussions with Taylor about the collection, leading to an analysis of particular images discussed under key themes relating to the transformation of the subjects; gender, intimacy, desire, performance, sexuality and materiality. This analysis draws conclusions regarding
the pair’s motivations and representations of themselves through image-making. It applies the idea of ‘transcendental social’, a system that unifies groups that live predominantly in our imagination, to the subculture of the British ‘New Romantic’ Movement. This thesis takes the position that the making
of vernacular photography can share characteristics with ritual behaviour and demonstrates ‘making special’ in a photographic act which transforms its subjects when they become an image.
Date of Award4 Jul 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGareth Hudson (Main Supervisor) & Liam Devlin (Co-Supervisor)

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