The year is 1989 and Glastonbury is just 19 years young. Free spirited punters from all over are flocking to Worthy Farm to watch Elvis Costello and Van Morrison grace the Pyramid Stage; and oh how different it was. As the world’s biggest music festival thrives in the beating sun this weekend, HEKKTA rolls back the years to remember the humble beginnings of such an iconic musical event.
As Stormzy made history on Friday being the first black British rapper to headline Glastonbury with an truly astonishing set, it cemented a turning point in Glastonbury’s history, but when glancing back at the photos of 1989, you realise the true journey that the festival has been on.
From a community driven, tiny festival run by a family of farmers, to a global phenomenon that marks the epitaph of any artist’s career. Come rain or shine, the transformation has been remarkable, and it’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down.
Journeying back to 1989, you can fully appreciate how far the festival has come.
The collection of photos was combiled and created by Mattko aka Matthew Smith, a visual artist, creative producer, art director and cultural protagonist working out of Bristol and the West Country in the UK.
He has been making independent documentary photography about British culture for the last three decades.
“This year it is 30 years since the journey began…That long hot summer…I left art college and went to work for Michael Eavis at for Glastonbury Festival as Site Crew for six weeks over the build and break…with my camera. It was the beginnning of a lifelong love affair with the culture and three decades of friendship”
“It was the first year that rave hit Glastonbury in a big way with Sugarlump rocking the place just off the main drag and the Travellers Field with Wangos and various rigs”
“In the Greenfields there was a big decker with a rig hidden under the gingham tablecloths of a pretend cafe…playing DiY style deep house and acid…I should have taken more photos during those 3 days and nights of being awake…and dancing through the dawn as the sun rose outside that bus has never left me”
“It was also the first year that any police were allowed on site…so from 1971 to 1989 it was a self governing social experiment in community, entertainment and existence…that’s a thought thats worth keeping in mind as you visit this summers vast range of festival experiences”
Look at the old fence! Nothing compared to the monster fence they put up today..
The heat appears to be getting to some of these gents…
A poor turn out for one act!
Below shows the Circus Burlesque show, with performers flinging themselves in the air; health and safety must have been a bit more relaxed back then.
The security guard does not appear overly enthralled by the gentleman’s performance…
A slightly darker bearded Michael Eavis chats to some security as the festival gets underway.
Here festival creators Jean and Michael Eavis are pictured laying casually despite the surrounding mayhem.
Sadly Jean passed away form cancer in 1999.
The pictures show a very different Glastonbury, but it’s values of community and celebrating people coming together has not changed one bit.
The photos were part of a project called Exist To Resist by Matthew Smith, which was created to celebrate the lost freedom of DIY rave, festival and protest culture in 1990s Britain.
An amazing project, which shows what rave and protest culture was really like from somebody who experienced it first hand, serving to reject the depiction by popular media at the time; certainly an amazing read.
See the full collection of photos here.