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40th anniversary exhibition at the British Library explores the formative years of Punk
Photograph of Buzzcocks (1976). From England's Dreaming: The Jon Savage Archive held at Liverpool John Moores University.


LONDON.- Punk 1976-78, a free exhibition revealing the extraordinary impact punk had on music, fashion and design across the UK between 1976 and 1978, opens at the British Library on Friday 13 May.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of punk, the exhibition will explore 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 scandalous live appearance on early-evening TV programme Today to the furore around their alternative jubilee anthem God Save the Queen.

The exhibition will also consider how the culturally and socially explosive phenomenon of punk rapidly transformed Britain’s musical landscape, playing a pivotal role in the rise of the independent music scene and challenging the conventional image of women in rock bands.

Drawing on the Library’s extensive archives, the exhibition in the Library’s Entrance Hall Gallery will feature a range of rare fanzines, unique flyers, exclusive audio recordings and original record sleeves, many of which have never been on public display before.

Punk 1976-78 will also feature 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’.

Exhibition highlights include:

• Rare copy of the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen single, which was never released because the A&M record label signed and dropped the band within one week

• Unique copies of fanzines from 1977 including the first punk fanzine Sniffin' Glue and the first and only edition of the Sex Pistols’ official fanzine, Anarchy in the UK

• Original posters, gig tickets and flyers from the Roxy Club, Covent Garden and Eric's Club, Liverpool

• Original clothing from the SEX boutique run by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road, London

• John Peel’s personal copy of the Undertones' single, Teenage Kicks

• Filmed interviews for Women in Punk by Gina Birch, founding member of The Raincoats

• The Damned drummer Rat Scabies's leather jacket

In recognition of the continuing legacy of punk, Punk 1976-78 is accompanied by an exceptional range of British Library events featuring speakers and creators who witnessed and participated in the events of 1976-78 first-hand.

Event highlights include:

• An Evening with John Lydon, lead singer of the Sex Pistols and one of the most recognisable figures in popular music history

• Me, Punk and the World: Bernard Rhodes in Conversation, Bernard Rhodes was at the forefront of developing the punk scene in the UK and went on to manage the Clash

• Buzzcocks: In their Own Words, an evening with original members Steve Diggle and Pete Shelley and manager Richard Boon

• Stories from the She Punks, featuring Tessa Pollitt from the first all-female punk band The Slits, Gina Birch from the Raincoats, Helen Reddington (Helen McCookerybook of The Chefs) and Jane Woodgate from the Mo-Dettes

Andy Linehan, Curator of Popular Music Recordings at the British Library, commented:

“Forty years ago punk had a huge impact on many aspects of British culture and continues to do so today, so we’re excited to dedicate an exhibition to it – featuring music, film, magazines and fanzines, record sleeves and more. Punk 1976-78 showcases the British Library’s unique collection of contemporary culture, as well as celebrating a phenomenon that spread across the nation and changed our cultural landscape.”

Punk 1976-78 has been curated by Andy Linehan (Curator, Popular Music, 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).

The exhibition is accompanied by a Punk pop-up shop selling vinyl, t-shirts, prints and books in the British Library Entrance Hall inspired by the objects on display. The pop-shop opens on 13 May and closes 2 October 2016, and will offer limited edition prints by punk photographer Sheila Rock, along with a range of merchandise including record players, homeware and jewellery.

The British Library’s punk season is part of Punk London, a year of events, gigs, films, talks and exhibits celebrating 40 years of punk heritage influence in London.





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