No comply: Skateboarding’s impact on the UK over the past 45 years

This new exhibition explores the urban sport’s influence on UK culture and communities

Charlotte Hodges
Monday 23 August 2021 10:41
<p>‘Here to win'</p>

‘Here to win'

The debut of urban sports at the Tokyo Olympics breathed new life into the Games this summer, with skateboarding notably popular, after it produced some of the best performances from the youngest athletes in Japan.

Team GB’s Sky Brown, at the age of just 13, won a bronze medal and became the youngest British summer Olympian ever.

With that success in mind, Somerset House, is presenting a new exhibition called ‘No Comply: Skate Culture and Community’, which explores the phenomena of skateboarding, and the impact its culture has had on communities in the UK over the past 45 years.

Curtis Pearl and Jake Church in a tube station

Helena Long, Stockwell

Iain Borden, 1980. Rom skatepark

Leading photographers, designers and filmmakers have combined their works to celebrate and share the country’s vibrant and diverse skateboarding scene.

The sport is thriving, throughout lockdown, skateboarding experienced the biggest increase in uptake since 2000, with over 750,000 skateboarders picking up or rediscovering the activity.

Lucien Clarke, switch backside noseblunt side

Jorn Tomter, Hackney Bumps, London 2020

Upside Down, Barbican, London, October 2015

However, the curators of ‘No Comply’, felt the story of skateboarding’s longstanding influence had gone under the radar for too long, and hope this exhibition will shine a light on the sub-culture that has played a huge part in shaping people, cities and culture in the UK, and beyond.

The exhibition also shines a light on the stories of non-profit initiatives that are working to incite positive change, to enable people to board no matter their age, gender or background.

Mike Arnold, ollie, Bristol 2014

Aimee Gillingwater, No Comply, Southbank, 2018

Dick’s Bowl, from the series DIY, Oxford, UK, 2012

Everyone is invited to embrace the freedoms and joys of riding a skateboard through the works on display.

‘No Comply: Skate Culture and Community’ runs until 19 September 2021 at Somerset House, London. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance via

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