Rage and Revolution Revisited as a Major Punk Exhibition Hits Leicester This Summer

The team behind the successful 2019 Mods: Shaping a Generation exhibition, Soft Touch Arts, Arch Creative and Shaun Knapp, are proud to present Punk: Rage & Revolution. This showcase will begin in Leicester on 27th May ‘23 and run through to 3rd September ‘23. The main events will be held at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts, but won’t stop there.

With funding from National Lottery players via The National Lottery Heritage Fund, BID Leicester, Leicester City Council, PPL PRS and De Montfort University, the team have been working in partnership with Leicester Museums & Galleries, collecting memories and memorabilia from people who were part of the 70s Punk scene and working with young people across Leicester to curate a multi-sensory exhibition showcasing fashion, music, art and more.

Punk: Rage & Revolution tells the story of the 1970’s UK Punk scene through original objects, clothing, information panels and ephemera. While the exhibition will focus on the key year of 1977 - when the Queen’s Silver Jubilee spectacularly clashed with the Punk explosion notoriously led by The Sex Pistols - it will also examine earlier influences and the post-Punk era of New Wave and beyond. Alongside origins and influences, the exhibition will also look at the subculture’s ideology, attitude, fashion, music, art and legacy. The Leicester Punk scene, with its pubs, clubs, venues and characters, will also form part of the exhibition.

Joe Nixon, Co-Founder of Arch Creative, says, “Following the success of the Mods exhibition, Arch Creative are excited to once again be working with the team to produce an exhibition which conveys the rage and revolution from both the original punk scene and young people today. Punk had such a revolutionary impact on design and culture, so I’m excited to be able to shine a light on the virtually unknown story of the Leicester creatives who helped to influence and document Punk. We’ve already interviewed dozens of people for the project and are delighted to include contributions of exclusive content from the likes of high-profile artist Jamie Reid, Punk poet Dr John Cooper Clarke and renowned Leicester-born photographer Steve Pyke MBE.”

The exhibition will uncover successful Leicester creatives that influenced or were part of the scene, such as Joe Orton, Roger K Burton, Steve Pyke, Stephane Raynor, Helen Robinson, David Parkinson and Juliana Sissons. It will also feature iconic clothing from Roger K Burton’s world-class collection of Dame Vivienne Westwood Punk-era designs. This will be a must see for visitors across the UK and beyond interested in youth culture, fashion, music, art, the DIY culture of punk and the influence and legacy this anti-establishment subculture has left behind.

Deputy City Mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “Our museums play a vital role in capturing and sharing stories that reflect the lives of local people, so I’m delighted that Leicester Museum & Art Gallery is to host this celebration of the Punk movement and what It meant to people in Leicester who were part of It.” The story of the Leicester and UK British Punk subculture will be told by those that were part of the scene. Young people from Leicester charity Soft Touch Arts are part of the exhibition curation team, learning directly from the Leicester Punks and contributing their ideas and reflections on what Punk means now. Through a series of creative projects and briefs, they are comparing and contrasting the social and political climate then and now, expressing what they learn through art, fanzines, fashion, music, dance, hair & make-up and styling.

Christina Wigmore from Soft Touch Arts says, “We are grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players for making this project possible. As well as having a nostalgic connection which will appeal to people across age ranges and cultures, this project has been an opportunity for young people to explore activism through art, media, fashion and music. The young people involved are thrilled to have the opportunity for their creative work to be shown in such a high-profile exhibition.”

Social History author Shaun Knapp said: “Punk was all about attitude which in itself informed its ideology, be it fashion, art or music and I’m looking forward to seeing how the young people of today engage with the punks from the 1970s to interpret one of the most fascinating and influential youth subcultures this country has seen.”

Jamie Reid’s seven-metre mural telling the story of Punk will be a key feature and The Gallery at De MontfortUniversity will host an exhibition of Reid’s activism art. In August 2023, LCB Depot will host a selection of DMU student work in response to the briefs set to tie in with the Punk Rage & Revolution project.

A Punk Festival Weekend is planned for 18-20th August across Leicester which aims to boost tourism and visitors both to the exhibition and the city centre. Parts of the exhibition will tour to Northampton Museum (Sept ’23 – March ’24) and to Nottingham’s Backlit Gallery (August 2023) with each place revealing their own stories and legacy of Punk.

Simon Jenner, BID Leicester said: “We can’t wait to welcome Punk: Rage and Revolution to Leicester, building on the success of Mods: Shaping a Generation back in 2019. This will be an exciting exhibition and tie-in weekend festival that celebrates the colour, vibrancy, and energy of the punk scene, offering a series of events for people to enjoy across a range of city centre venues. As well as offering something new to the public, the exhibition and festival will provide a boost to footfall and sales for our businesses.”

Wider involvement of young people from open calls, Leicester schools and colleges and student responses to design briefs set by De Montfort University Arts, Design & Humanities and Media Departments will mean around 300 young people are directly involved in the project.

Other local businesses will also be supporting the project with De Montfort University funding a 12-month paid curation internship and PPL PRS sponsoring the interactive and music elements of the exhibition.

To keep up to date with the project and exhibition follow rageandrevolution.co.uk or facebook.com/shapingageneration/

Quotes from our key sponsors:

Andrea Gray, Managing Director at PPL PRS Ltd, commented about choosing to support the exhibition: “The punk era was so iconic, and the music was an integral part of that and has left such a fantastic legacyfor future artists to draw upon. We are really excited to be able to support Soft Touch Arts with this project,giving everyone a glimpse into life in the 1970s - from the groundbreaking fashion designs of VivenneWestwood through to the influential music artists, many of whom are still performing and shaping much of the music we hear from emerging artists today. This is a great opportunity for Leicester to bring the punk era back to life, and celebrate all of the rage and revolution that came with it, I can’t wait to see it!”

Fi Donovan, Head of Public Engagement from De Montfort University, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the project and more specifically sponsoring a placement opportunity for one of our students. Not only does it allow us to work with Soft Touch Arts and other key partners for the exhibition but allows us to facilitate a unique real-life learning opportunity which is of mutual benefit. Our campus facilities and courses align with many of the key themes and topics which the exhibition will address overall, and we can’t wait to see it all take shape over the coming months.”

Sarah Scott, Heritage Hub Director, University of Leicester said: ‘We are delighted to support this exhibition. One of the key ambassadors is our own Dr Emma Parker. Her network and expertise have helped launch the event’s national profile and press coverage. Emma has been a great asset in establishing links between Punk and Joe Orton, whose influence can be seen in the works of the artist Jamie Reid and designers Malcolm McLaren and Dame Vivienne Westwood. Our Archives and Special Collections team has also supported the development of the exhibition. We are looking forward to future collaborations with Soft Touch Arts, Arch Creative and Shaun Knapp through our newly established Heritage Hub. The Hub is working in partnership with communities, organisations and businesses to co-design and deliver projects that explore and celebrate the rich heritage of our city and region.’

Background Information

Punk was a rebellious movement showing young people’s disapproval of the system through a do-it-yourself approach to expression, and commentary using subversive fashion, music, art, posters, and fanzines. Punk: Rage & Revolution is an ambitious 18-month community intergenerational heritage project (Jan ‘22 - Sept ’23) leading to a public exhibition at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts between June and September ‘23. It builds on learning and evaluation from the 2018/19 Mods: Shaping a Generation project.

Key elements of the project include:

• Involvement of 30 original Leicester Punks alongside 120+ disadvantaged young people in 150 creative design and curation workshops. They will explore and contrast the social, political, and cultural landscape associated with the Punk subculture in the 70s and today.

• Young people will be at the heart of the project, learning skills in curating and making creative, multimedia displays which will sit alongside original collections to present a large-scale multi-site public exhibition.

• Iconic Punk clothing sourced from Roger Burton and Stephane Raynor’s estate (Boy London) will sit alongside loans of clothing, photographs and recorded memories contributed by Leicester Punks.

• Recorded memories will be e-archived by the East Midlands Oral History Archive and the Museum of Youth Culture, preserving social history stories that may otherwise not be told.