Meet London’s pissed off, well-coiffed youth

Photographer Evan Purdy and hair stylist Kieron Justin shoot young people who are frustrated with the way the country is being run and are expressing that angst through style.

As the UK seemingly spirals down the shitter, photographer Evan Purdy and hair stylist Kieron Justin noticed that All the Children Are Insane. That’s not just a wild generalisation of angsty kidz, but the title of the pair’s new photo series, featuring 18 well-dressed youngsters who, as Purdy points out, are pretty pissed off with how things are being run.

It all started when Purdy and Justin, who street-cast London strangers as well as friends for the series, noticed how young people’s anger, rage and frustrations were being presented through their style: coloured hair, dramatic make-up, shaved heads, and piercings.

I’m very interested in how young people are using fashion to express their struggle or how confusing this world is,” says Purdy, a Mancunian who’s currently living in East London.

A 21-year-old student himself (currently studying for a BA in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Art), Purdy’s more than aware of the struggles facing young people right now. They’re dealing with the aftermath of Covid, widespread strikes, a cost of living and a housing crisis. Inequality is rife and good-time establishments are slowly going under: currently, Britain has 13,793 fewer pubs, clubs and bars than it did three years ago.

Put simply: it’s not easy being young in the UK right now. So we asked the young people in Purdy’s images to give us their take on the state of the world. Oh, and look at those brilliant barnets while you’re at it.


What’s pissing you off?
That Anthony Bourdain is dead, which is selfish but I just think he wasn’t done yet! Come back! Same for you, Leonard Cohen.



What’s pissing you off?
I’m pissed off at how detached from reality the people in power are in the UK. The living standards we have now are a joke.



Do you feel abandoned by your elders?
My immediate family are all diasporic, so I’ve naturally nurtured the feeling of progressing with respect to my past. The generational difference feels bigger than before since the worlds we inhabit are less shared. Traditional gender roles have been broken down for good reasons, but from that void I think generational anxieties about modern human archetypes are still to be agreed upon.

What can you say that needs to be said?
You’ll be alright. You do need to actually do something though.


How does it feel trying to find happiness in this world?
Like banging your head against the wall. But also, like looking inside, giving up trust and love at your own risk, accepting failure, learning, and repeating time and time again.

What can you say that needs to be said?
Sometimes the self-service is no quicker than the normal checkout.


What’s pissing you off?
McDonald’s 99p” Mayo Chicken is now £1.19. Like, be fucking for real.

How does it feel trying to find happiness in this world?
Like an intense house of mirrors, escher illusion, psyche ward, derealisation fantasy. Ups and downs, round and round. I’ve learned to find peace wherever I am, even if that’s in a place where happiness can’t find me.

What can you say that needs to be said?
It’s easier than you think.


What’s pissing you off?
I’m pissed off about the fact that Arsenal didn’t win the league.



What’s pissing you off?
Money, sleep and fun, because I never have enough.

How does it feel trying to find happiness in this world?
Like a challenge with no real end goal. I find my happiness in creation and in the people I love.

Do you feel abandoned by your elders?
I think we may have been politically abandoned by our elders, but I’m lucky enough to be friends with older people who have done amazing things, and are very willing to hand the torch down to the youth and help us succeed. It’s just important for us not to fall into the trap of undervaluing the generations below us as we age.

What can you say that needs to be said?
Nothing I can say is important enough that it needs to be said!


What’s pissing you off?
Nothing. There are too many things to be grateful for.



How does it feel trying to find happiness in this world?
I think happiness finds you, not the other way around. You can be open to receiving happiness and allow it to be a part of your life, but it exists in details. If you’re able to notice them, you’ll feel it. The world is quite unforgiving and truly unkind, so I understand the desire to be in control and be the one who finds happiness outside. Happiness exists within ourselves! I will say, however, that my happiness is being at home with green tea and a book, with a loved one who’s doing the exact same thing.



How does it feel trying to find happiness in this world?
I don’t think I’m searching for happiness. Constantly trying to be happy would make me miserable, especially in a world that is such a mess. Happiness can (and does) find me if it wants to.

Do you feel abandoned by your elders?
I feel equally as disconnected from my peers as I do from my elders. It seems like we’re all becoming more and more disconnected and distant every day. If anything, we have all started to abandon each other in favour of our distractions and self-obsession.

What can you say that needs to be said?
Pay attention to the anti-LGBTQIA+ laws that are being passed in America. We cannot move backwards, only forwards. Trans rights are human rights. Queer people deserve joy and freedom.


What’s pissing you off?
It infuriates me when my hair looks bad and when I have no money. When these things come together it ruins my day.



What’s pissing you off?
That I’m still unknown to the general masses, because they’re being deprived of something great (humble).



What’s pissing you off?
We exist in a world full of self-seeking, self-empowered and self-loving people, to the point where some people get so caught up in their good works that it becomes evil, turning them into acts of malevolence.



What’s pissing you off?
I am pissed off about the hate the Star Wars prequels got. Revenge of the Sith is Shakespearean.



What’s pissing you off?
The cost of living crisis and the ever-rising price of the Tesco meal deal.


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