Lovers’ Rock
John Goto

£25.00 Ex Tax: £25.00
  • Product Code: bk16009
  • ISBN: 978-899282-16-6
  • Availability: In Stock


Lovers’ Rock is a series of portraits created in 1977 at the Lewisham Youth Centre in south London where photographer John Goto taught evening classes. The images remained unseen in Goto’s archive for more than 35 years until one of his former students, photographer Dave Lewis, brought them to the attention of Autograph ABP.

The gentle intimacy of the portraits sits in stark contrast to the social and political upheaval taking place on the streets outside the youth centre. In the mid-1970s the Lewisham and New Cross areas of south London became the locus of intense political activity by extreme Right wing groups. When the National Front announced they were going to march through the area because, as Martin Webster, the NF organiser said, “We believe that the multi-racial society is wrong, is evil and we want to destroy it,” it culminated in the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ where more than 200 people were arrested.

As Professor Paul Gilroy argues in his essay There is Love in the Heart of the City in the book: “Racism always denies individuality to those it subordinates … Here in these images, the photographer … has allowed, even encouraged, his sitters to cultivate the dimensions of individual subjectivity that racism simply cannot accommodate.”

The unselfconscious engagement of the subjects in front of the camera can, in part, be explained by their familiarity with the photographer, who was not much older than the sitters. Goto decided to call the series Lovers’ Rock after a musical sub-genre that grew out of the South London reggae scene during this period.

“Goto's wonderfully engaging portraits offer an important counter narrative to the dominant image of black youth in south London during the mid 1970s which constantly framed them as wildly delinquent.”
Mark Sealy

Mark Sealy and Renée Mussai


Mark Sealy (Foreword); Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey (Preface); Professor Paul Gilroy; John Goto


Book data
Pages 120
Photographs 45
Dimensions 220mm x 232mm
Cover type Hardback with foiled cover
Publication 2013