Rockers, Soulheads & Lovers: Sound Systems Back in Da Day

Main Gallery

Launch event: 10 October 2015, 7pm – 12am

Rockers, Soulheads & Lovers: Sound Systems Back In Da Day is a new exhibition exploring the golden era of African-Caribbean sound systems from the 1960s to the early 1980s, curated by Michael McMillan in collaboration with Gary Stewart, Trevor Mathison (Dubmorphology) and New Art Exchange.

Sound systems originated from Jamaica and began to emerge in the UK from the 1950s onwards, creating an important space where the Black community could dance and listen to their music of choice. Sound systems are custom made, high powered, mobile hi fis. Box Boys and Engineers would 'string up' sound systems for a dance and the Selectors would play vinyl records with Toasters/MCs 'chatting' on the mic.

'I started a sound system in 1957 to bring black people together, because things was hard for us in those days. We wasn't going to run from anybody.' Doctor

Taking the form of an atmospheric audio visual installation, the exhibition will capture the sights, but more importantly, the sounds of blues parties and shebeens. Early sound system pioneers from Nottingham and the 'ravers' who danced wherever they 'played out' feature in the exhibition. They share their personal stories, their film footage and photographs from the era.

'You had Doctor, Sir Clifton, Ska Boy, Sky Rocket, Quatro Town, Tropical, Earthquake, Success, Top-Notch – loads of sound systems that we at V-Rocket had rivalry with.' Valerie Robinson

The show will evoke the sense of being in a dance with authentic 'House of Joy' wardrobe speakers, value amps, turntables, vinyl records and a specially created soundtrack. NAE will transform into a blues dance to launch the show on 10 October.

A future iteration of the exhibition will be developed with Autograph ABP, London, and 198 Gallery, Contemporary Arts and Learning.


24 OCTOBER 2015, 12PM



New Art Exchange
39-41 Gregory Boulevard
NG7 6BE, Uk


0115 924 8630


Opening Times

Mon: Closed

Tues -  Sat: 10:00 – 16:00

Sun: Closed

Closed Bank Holidays

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We would like to acknowledge the financial support new art exchange has received from our funders and partners.

Supported by

Logos for; Arts Council England, Nottingham City Council

Capital funders

Logos for; Nottingham City Council, East Midlands Development Agency, Neighbourhood Development Company, European Regional Development Fund, Greater Nottingham Partnership, Arts Council England