North East Connected

Bringing the spirit of punk to a city of creativity and culture

Punk 1976-78, a British Library exhibition, begins at Sunderland Museum, Library & Winter Gardens this weekend, with doors opening at 10am on Saturday.

Running during normal opening hours from Saturday 3 December 2016 until Sunday 26 February 2017 The British Library’s punk exhibition celebrates the 40th anniversary of this unique and exciting musical phenomenon. It celebrates the enduring influence of punk as a radical musical, artistic and political movement.

The exhibition explores its roots in the French Situationist movement and New York City art-rock scene through to the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols, from their infamous live appearance on early-evening TV programme “Today” to the furore around their alternative silver jubilee anthem “God Save the Queen”.

Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly, said: “There is a lot for everyone here; from the music lover and those interested in the design, photography or fashion of the era.

“To be chosen by the British Library to host this exhibition is a great honour. We as a city should be proud of our growing recognition as a city of creativity and culture.”

Sunderland is the first city outside of London to host the exhibition which considers how the culturally and socially explosive phenomenon of punk rapidly transformed Britain’s musical landscape.

Drawing on the Library’s extensive archives, it features a fascinating range of rare fanzines such as the first Sniffin’ Glue in 1977 and the first and only edition of the Sex Pistols’ official fanzine, Anarchy in the UK. Original posters, gig tickets and flyers from the clubs that would become synonymous with the scene are displayed alongside original record sleeves, many of which have never been on public display before.

Highlights include John Peel’s personal copy of the Undertones’ single, Teenage Kicks and original t-shirts from Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s SEX boutique on the Kings Road. At the time, punk was challenging the conventional image of women in rock bands and the exhibition shows Poly Styrene, Siouxsie Sioux and the Slits taking centre stage alongside Sid Vicious, Rat Scabies et al.

Andy Linehan, Curator of Popular Music Collections at the British Library, commented: “It is great to be able to work in partnership with Sunderland Library Services. Partnerships such as this enable us to take this very popular exhibition around the country, giving as many people as possible the opportunity to see some of these authentic original items.

“I’m looking forward to visiting Sunderland for the opening weekend and I hope as many people as possible across the region can take the opportunity to experience this fascinating display.”

Punk 1976-78 also features rare material from the UK’s biggest punk-related archive held at Liverpool John Moores University, showcasing rare posters, ephemera and clothing from ‘England’s Dreaming: The Jon Savage Archive’, ‘The Situationist International: John McCready Archive’, ‘The Pete Fulwell Archive’ and ‘Adventures in Wonderland: The Falcon Stuart and X-Ray Spex Archive’.

Punk 1976-78 has been curated by Andy Linehan (Curator, Popular Music Collections, British Library), Steve Cleary (Lead Curator, Literary and Creative Recordings, British Library) and Colin Fallows (Professor of Sound and Visual Arts, Liverpool John Moores University).

Across Sunderland there will be a number of fringe events organised by Sunderland Library Services including screen printing t-shirts and album sleeves, song writing sessions, fanzine sessions and links to associated music and bands.

The event has also involved partners Sunderland College and The University of Sunderland engaging fashion, music, journalism and history students in the programme.

Sunderland Library Services have also commissioned NEPN (North East Photography Network) based at Sunderland University and photographer Kuba Ryniewicz to use local images from circa 76-78 and create an exhibition on billboards. One backdrop will be printed to large scale and situated at the venue, creating a ‘selfie-station’ for users to pose in front of. Social media will be used to allow these images to become part of the photographic record with all images placed back into the Local Studies Section for archiving. @SLibraries #Punk40.

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