My salad days, When I was green in judgment: cold in blood…
-Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
There’s a camaraderie to being young and carefree. The knowledge that you can be a little stupid and irresponsible without consequences. Or at least without the consuming fear of consequences. If they come, you’ll deal with them. But you don’t necessarily fear them. The worry-free quest for joy and fun at all costs is what brings young people together. It’s a roman-candle spirit: burning hot and fizzling too soon.
This is what photographer James Grundy sought to capture when embedded with a skate crew in rural Australia for months on end. He wanted to show the sense of freedom among the crew, an easy going chill reflected in 33mm photographs. You can see what fascinated Grundy in the way his subjects move their bodies, the way they sit, party, skate, and dress. Their style is unencumbered by strict form or convention. Their clothing feels like a natural extension of their lives. The tattoos, shoes, beers, and cigarettes are all one beast, one lifestyle that is inextricable from the wearer.
“It’s usually kind of a haphazard,” Grundy says of his long says with Aussie skateboarders. “All over the place. Waking up hungover, drinking late into the night. Loud music and partying going on.”
There’s a reason that skate style is emulated so often. It’s a culture that revolves around camaraderie and fun. It’s imbued with young energy and filled with effortless cool. No wonder streetwear brands around the world do their best to reproduce this spirit for the masses. But what they can’t recreate inorganically is the actual skaters themselves. What Grundy’s photographs reveal is a complete level of authenticity that no retailer can brand.
Grundy’s “Salad Days” series reminds us that youth really is fleeting. So you’d better capture those blissful, worry-free moments, those feelings of indestructibility now. Because you can’t freeze them in resin. You can’t snatch them back when they pass. The best you can hope for is some wild memories, some good pics, and a few cool scars.