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Concrete Girls

Charlotte Thomas

A skateboard lover and photographer named Charlotte Thomas got in touch with us the other day. She put a lot of effort in a Book picturing the UK female skateboard scene. We appreciate her love for skateboarding and the energy she put into this book, so we had a little chat with her about the female scene, her relationship to skateboarding and about Concrete Girls.

Soloskatemagazin Charlotte Thomas

Charlotte Thomas

Hi Charlotte, how old are you and where are you from? 

Hi Solo, I’m 34 years old and I’m originally from Hereford, UK. 

What do you do for a living?

I was a freelance Photographer but I’m currently working on Concrete Girls. 

What got you into Skateboarding and Photography?

I started skateboarding when I was 16, however really got into my own when I moved to Leeds for University at 19. I spent 8 years here, skating mainly Hyde Park and Leeds street spots. Photography had always been part of my life since an early age, I really enjoyed using old Polaroids and the disposable cameras you got from Boots. It wasn’t until I moved to London and started working in Fashion I realised this is what I’d like to do as a living. Skateboard photography came in 2013 as a full time venture, I’d always taken pictures of skateboarding since the early days but that was only to capture memories of my friends. I got badly injured which lead me to not skate as much as I’d liked, to keep within the scene and to still be apart of skateboarding I started shooting it as a subject. I wouldn’t call myself a “Skateboard Photographer” I’m more of a “ Skateboard Lifestyle Photographer” I could never put myself in the same bracket as Arto Sarri, Giovanni Reda or Atiba Jefferson you know! 

Soloskatemagazin Concrete Girls123

Helena Long & Lois Pendlebury - London

The girl skating scene is growing bigger around the globe and we dig it. But I guess you still have to deal with a lot of shit and it is still not easy to shred a skatepark stuffed with boys. What is it like being a girl skater in this male dominated culture?  

Personally I don’t really know any difference to be honest, I started early 2000’s and I was amongst a tiny few in the UK skating at the time, I kinda just got used to that. I never felt any shit from guys, of course you did get the “wow” factor there is a girl skater but that was is it. We were all there to skate so just kinda got on with it. I guess dudes just wanted to help me learn more, encouragement more than anything. Now there are more girls skaters, literally hundreds its just the norm I think, I haven’t come across uncomfortableness personally, I have seen or heard some of my female skateboarder friends get horrible comments on social media regarding what they wear or what they look like which I disagree with and think is childish but I think social media plays havoc on that kind of behaviour and as much as its not cool how do you stop it! I think thats a bigger discussion for another time. I think from experience and meeting girls at competitions there is still a lack of confidence or fear of embarrassing themselves. From a large majority of the girls I've met I think this will change as more and more females start skateboarding. 

Soloskatemagazin Concrete Girls Helena Long

Helena Long – London

As skating becoming more popular, girls are more likely a subculture in skateboarding. You are the punks of skateboarding now, which is pretty rad. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages in this position? 

I’ve always been the minority within the culture and its cool you know, I like being a Punk, going against the norm thats what drew me to skate in the first place, I mean as 16 year old trying to rebel against society as you do at that age, it was the perfect escape - I just fitted in. We have skate crews which is just so unheard of in mens skateboarding these days, now this is fucking cool! I hope this never disappears! 

Advantages are we are one big family, all supporting each other and genuinely stoked for anyone doing well in the culture. We tend to support each others brands in some way, we are not in competition, we are just growing together. No one really cares about getting sponsored or winning XGames, don't get me wrong so proud of the girls who attend these events, and put women skateboarding on a higher platform however its more about hanging out with your friends, creating your own style and making nice memories. 

Disadvantages would be horrible comments to my friends on social media, so uncool and not necessary! If you've got nothing nice to say then don't write it on a comment or post.

Soloskatemagazin Concrete Girls Josie Millard

Josie Millard – London

I can imagine there is a big connection between the few girl skaters. Could you describe the skate scene in the UK?

UK Skateboarding summed up in one word RAIN! We have pro’s here who are amazing advocates for the sports, Lucy Adams has her second pro board out next week on Lovenskate, so proud of her. Danni Gallacher who runs Girl Skate UK has done so much to raise the profile of the scene and build a community, she’s amazing! 

Josie Millard is off with Nike SB chilling with Lacey Baker and friends which is so great for her. I’m so happy such a massive talent from the UK has been given that opportunity she is a really humble girl and deserves it. Helena Long the UK’s no one at this years NASS has been doing some stuff for Santa Cruz. Rianne Evans and Stef Nurding also doing really well with Lakai, Vans and Polar. Girls back when I was skating didn't get much love at all back then and I’m so happy the industry is starting to reward these gorgeous woman and allowing them to be skateboarders and embracing all there different personalities and styles. 

The UK is known for rough street spots. What is your favorite Spot in the UK?

There are so many, it is hard to choose. I spent most of my time in Leeds, so I have to say the Leeds University Banks as they were really hard to skate but so much fun and the Leeds DIY spot. And obviously long live Southbank, Kelli that one is for you. 

Soloskatemagazin Concrete Girls Rianne Evans London

Rianne Evans – London

You recently published a Photography Book picturing the Girl Skateboard scene in the UK. Could you tell us a bit about the book. What was the idea behind it and what does it mean to you? 

Concrete Girls aims to celebrate a side of the UK scene, that I felt had been missing from documentation or general discussion. Not enough people at the time were talking about the scene and these women in the book were empowering and inspiring both myself and other girls to get into the sport. I wanted to produce a book of memories for them and the scene itself. I call it my retirement piece and I hope it will inspire a younger generation to start skateboarding. The project was also a chance to make new friends and give something back to the one thing that had given me so much freedom and self confidence throughout my life – skateboarding.

Where can we buy Concrete Girls? 

At the moment only online but I'm in conversations with skate shops as we speak! 

You have anything to add on?

Yes I’d just like to give some shout outs to Mum & Roger who have been there for me every step of the way during this project and Tom my boyfriend for putting up with me during my stressed out moments during the book creation and believing in me.  Anna Svan, Sophie Hewitt, Lou Smith and Tara Brady - My Rocks. Leon Walton, Thomas Harrison, Chris Parsons, Simon Burlo, Rory Martinez and Simon Burlo - My Skate Crew aka The LADS. All the Girls in the book . Girl Is Not A 4 Letter Word Publishing House, Oliver Wright and Vans for supporting my first solo Photography Exhibition in London last month - and for putting up with my nerves. My Dad for being the best barman at the book launch and dealing with the drunk skaters ! My brother Adam, for just being there always. 

Cheers for the talk Charlotte and all the best.