The show which runs from Saturday 3 December 2016 until Sunday 26 February 2017 reveals the extraordinary impact punk had on music, journalism, politics, fashion and design across the UK between 1976 and 1978.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of punk, 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 scandalous live appearance on early-evening TV programme Today to the furore around their alternative jubilee anthem God Save the Queen.
The exhibition also considers 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 British Library’s extensive archives, the exhibition features a range of rare fanzines, unique flyers, exclusive audio recordings and original record sleeves, many of which have never been on public display before this year.
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’.
Andy Linehan, Curator of Popular Music Collections 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 have dedicated 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.”
Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly, said: “Our city continues to develop a reputation for creativity and culture. We’re really proud to be able to work with the British Library to bring this event to new audiences in Sunderland and the wider North East. We should take great pride in that we are the first city outside of London to host this fascinating and informative exhibition.
“We will also be organising a wide range of fringe events across the city to support this initiative. I encourage everyone to go along and make the most of this opportunity to see the impact this particular style of music and lifestyle had on an entire generation.”
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.
Work will also involve partners Sunderland College and The University of Sunderland to engage fashion, music, journalism and history students in programme or as volunteers.
NEPN will be at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens on Saturday 3 December 2016, 11am-3pm with photographer Kuba Ryniewicz in a participatory ‘Punk Photo Studio’. Commissioned by Sunderland Libraries Service, the studio is programmed in conjunction with the British Library ‘Punk 1976-78’ Exhibition.
Re-appropriated images from Sunderland’s Local Studies Collection and news stories from Sunderland’s past will be merged with portraits of visitors to the museum and library, creating individual, unique encounters of Sunderland’s past and present. Kuba has explored the living history of the city of the late 1970s and 1980s to spark a dialogue about the life of the collection and its growth and contemporary relevance. This new commission will draw on hidden items from the library’s collections to playfully celebrate the resilience and independent spirit of the city and its citizens.
Like a fashion director, Kuba will invite visitors to have their portraits taken, instructing them to adopt various mysterious postures and gestures and photographing them against a blank white studio backdrop. These will be transformed into photographic souvenirs to be taken away. All images created will also be placed back into the Local Studies Collection. There will also be a #PunkPhotoStudio selfie station located in the museum
Kuba and the Punk Photo Studio will be returning to Sunderland in the New Year on Saturday 18 February 2017.