PRINT! Tearing It Up

8 June- 22 August 2018

Free: Terrace Rooms, South Wing

Independent British magazines changing the world

New exhibition champions the power of print by celebrating independent voices challenging the mainstream

“Print publishing means that we’re not posting articles which are lost in the ether of the internet. We’re shoving our faces in everyone else’s and saying: ‘We exist.’” Sharan Dhaliwal, editor-in-chief, Burnt Roti

This summer, Somerset House explores the power of print by celebrating the past and present of Britain’s thriving independent magazine scene.

Print! Tearing It Up will be the first exhibition to trace the journey of independent voices in magazines and journals from their roots in the early 20th century to today’s contemporary titles. Contrary to the idea that print is dying, these freethinking publications reflect a wider independent culture, proving print is going from strength to strength in the digital era.

The exhibition chronicles the evolution of progressive print publications and celebrates the diverse subjects and social issues they tackle. From alternative views on lifestyle, leisure and architecture to addressing topical issues including diversity, gender, sexuality and media manipulation, the show champions the innovation and creativity of this growing industry, an ethos that aligns with Somerset House’s support of the creatives who form a large section of their on-site residents.

Focusing primarily on the contemporary industry of innovative independent magazines, the exhibition, curated by writer Paul Gorman (The Story of The Face, In Their Own Write: Adventures In The Music Press) and Somerset House’s Senior Curator Claire Catterall with graphic design by Scott King, will guide visitors through a hands-on approach to the fascinating processes behind independent publishing, from concept and design to print and distribution. From discerning displays laying bare the key titles, editors, designers and writers involved in a magazine’s inception and development, to the opportunity to flick through a range of chosen titles, visitors will be able to discover and understand the origins of a vast selection of specialist magazines with exciting, well-executed content.

The show will invite visitors to explore the diverse range of subjects tackled by independent magazines through a series of themed areas. At the heart of independent magazine publishing lies a culture of activism, satire and dissent going back to titles such as BLAST, the Vorticist journal first produced in June 1914, and Crash! in the 1990s, which sit alongside modern day favourite Private Eye (first published in the early 1960s and still Britain’s best-selling current affairs magazine). They will be presented with new satirical voices Mushpit and Somerset House resident Delayed Gratification, the world's first Slow Journalism magazine. The debate surrounding gender and sexuality has been reflected in the success of hugely popular magazines launched in the past decade, from The Gentlewoman, which can chart its evolution from Spare Rib, the seminal feminist magazine founded in the 1970s, to Ladybeard, Ablaze! and D.I.Y zines created by teenage feminist collectives in 1990s-2000s, among many more showcased. Similarly, the exhibition celebrates the rise in titles dedicated to ethnic minority communities and concerns, with examples including gal-dem, Thiiird and Burnt Roti, which showcases South Asian creativity.

Print! Tearing It Up also considers the role of magazines in the advancement of architecture and design ideas, including magazines such as NATØ and Blueprint, and the launch of the first ‘lifestyle’ magazine, the 1980s/90s phenomenon The Face, and its wealth of successors including i-D, Dazed and Fantastic Man. Today the likes of Real Review and Eyesore promote new writing on architecture and the urban environment, Little White Lies focuses on film, and The Gourmand on food. Completing the Print! Tearing It Up experience, visitors can reflect on true alternatives to mainstream media found in the British underground press with the radical printing produced by IT, Oz and Friends/Frendz, which all showcased alternative lifestyles and underground culture.

Alongside Print! Tearing It Up will be a host of related events taking place on site as part of Somerset House’s East Wing Edit; a summer of exhibitions, talks, pop-ups, events and more tying directly into the cultural programme. The series will launch with a discussion from co-curator Paul Gorman and guests, including leading social commentator Peter York and Mushpit’s Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts. Activities also include all-female activist lines ups, explorations of self-education, acknowledgment of architectural anarchy, plus PROCESS! Festival co-curated by Somerset House Studios artists OOMK (One of My Kind). This will run from Saturday 21 to Sunday 22 July and will celebrate independent media and making, bringing together established and emerging designers, artists, activists and publishers to explore, interrogate and share approaches to creative and collaborative processes.

Submissions to exhibit at PROCESS! are now open on Somerset House’s webpage HERE:

Submission Deadline: Bank Holiday Monday 02 April 2018 at 18.00
Print! Tearing It Up will be the next exhibition in the Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series, an ongoing partnership with the leading law firm to present a wide range of free exhibitions reflecting the broad interests of both organisations.

Original material is being sourced from the John May Countercultural Archive. The exhibition is also kindly supported by print services company Park.


For press enquiries, please contact:
Frances Teehan, Senior Press Officer on / 0207 845 4624

Notes to Editors: Dates: 8 June – 22 August 2018

Times: Monday, Tuesday, Saturday & Sundays 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.00), Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 11.00-20.00 (last admission 19.00)

Tickets: Free available at

Address: Terrace Rooms, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

Transport: Underground: Temple, Embankment / Rail: Charing Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars

Website: Somerset House

Facebook: Somerset House

Twitter: @SomersetHouse Somerset House Instagram: @SomersetHouse

Hashtag: #PrintTearingItUp


Somerset House A unique part of the London cultural scene, Somerset House is an historic building where surprising and original work comes to life. From its 18th-century origins, Somerset House has been a centre for debate and discussion – an intellectual powerhouse for the nation. Somerset House is today a key cultural destination in London in which to experience a broad range of artistic activity, engage with artists, designers and makers and be a part of a major creative forum – an environment that is relaxed, welcoming, and inspirational to visit while providing a stimulating workplace for the cultural and creative industries.

Since its opening in 2000, Somerset House has built up a distinctive outdoor public programme including Skate, concerts, an open-air film season and a diverse range of temporary exhibitions throughout the site focusing on contemporary culture, with an extensive learning programme attached. In October 2016, Somerset House launched Somerset House Studios, a new experimental workspace connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. The Studios provide a platform for new creative projects and collaboration, promoting work that pushes bold ideas, engages with urgent issues and pioneers new technologies. Somerset House is also one of the biggest community of creative organisations in London including The Courtauld Gallery and Institute of Art, King’s College London Cultural Institute and over 100 other creative businesses. It currently attracts approximately 3.4 million visitors every year.

About Paul Gorman

Paul Gorman is a writer and curator who has contributed to many of the world’s leading publications, including GQ, Apartamento, Vanity Fair and Vice. His books include The Story Of The Face: The Magazine That Changed Culture, Straight With Boy George, Nine Lives With Goldie and Derek Boshier: Rethink/Re-entry. His exhibition subjects include David Bowie, The Face, the late cultural iconoclast Malcolm McLaren and the graphic designer Barney Bubbles. Gorman’s current projects include Malcolm McLaren: The Biography, to be published in 2019 by Constable & Robinson, and a revised, updated and illustrated edition of his music press history In Their Own Write.

About Scott King

Scott King was art director of i-D magazine and creative director of Sleazenation magazine. Since 1997, King has occasionally worked under the title CRASH! with historian Matthew Worley. Scott King has collaborated with many influential figures including the Pet Shop Boys, Michael Clark, Malcolm McLaren and Suicide. King’s work has been exhibited worldwide in both commercial galleries and institutions; he has also produced several books including Anxiety & Depression (2009), Art Works (2010), Anish & Antony Take Afghanistan (2014), Public Art (2016) and Britlins (2017).

About Charles Russell Speechlys

Charles Russell Speechlys works with clients in the UK and throughout the world. Our lawyers are based in 11 locations across the UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and through each of these locations clients are able to access the full range of the firm's skills and expertise.

We have a broad range of skills and experience across the full spectrum of business and personal needs. This gives us a wider perspective, clear insight and a strongly commercial long-term view.

It has made us a leader in the world of dynamic growth and family businesses, and among the world's leading creators and owners of private wealth and their families. Major corporates and institutions find our more considered and personal approach a refreshing alternative to conventional business law firms.