If I could have lived amongst the generation of the punk scene I would have. Oh how I wish to have lived my teens in the sixties and refused to grow up by turning into a punk in my late twenties. Not that I would have called myself a punk, that would not have been cool at all. Damn my mother for being so straight-edge and not having a whole attic filled with zines and old punk tees, a gentle reminder to those feeling they need to be ‘minimal’ that your future children will probably not appreciate it.
The cut and paste aesthetic of the punk era is one that I hold dearly in my heart. Collages of irrelevant things, breaking every rule in typography and not giving a f*** about the outcome is what makes this era so great for design. There was SO much freedom and I feel that is what we lack these days, we put far too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and perfect doesn’t always make perfection.
If like me you’re dreaming of the days of multiple fonts on a poster, why not get down to the Punk 1976-78 exhibition which has just opened at the wonderful British Library? Think bold colours, zines with attitude and an array of records that dominated the punk era. Exploring the early days of how punk became punk, the exhibition starts with the impact of the Sex Pistols in 1976 and reveals little secrets about some of the people involved in the movement (did you know John McTernan, political secretary to Tony Blair, and Shane MacGowan actually created the Hanging Around zine?) as well as rare fashion, flyers and posters. You can feast your eyes on the first copy of Punk magazine where it is believed the term punk may have originated from and learn more about Sex on King’s road where Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols used to hang out. In fact, let’s all make like the Sex Pistols and get sacked from our contracts for being naughty. They won businessmen of the year you know? Just for their ability to land large sums of money and manage to break out of contract with the record label for being so uncontrollable.
It was pretty amazing to see all of the kickass ladies involved in the era. This was the first time women were really doing something totally different and with the only form of inspiration really coming from Patti Smith, bands such as Siouxie, Poly Styrene, Penetration and The Slits left their mark on the music world. It all left me really wanting to form a band. Good job I had some ladies with me all thinking exactly the same as Photo Booth opportunities await in the British Library shop and I can promise you this is your chance to go absolutely wild. You’ll find me and my hair on the wall already.
The shop itself is another dream. It features a ‘record store’ style set up, meaning you can try vinyls before you buy in the 1970s replica listening booth – my advice, go with The Clash! There’s also lots of other punk inspired memorabilia including posters, books, badges and fashion items. It was so hard not to buy it all! A couple of posters did manage to make it into my basket which you can see below but I’m still craving a number of things so I thought I’d create a little wish list to ponder over. With the exhibition and shop open until the 2nd October, its an absolute certainty I’ll be back with the boy, leather jackets and an attitude as essential accessories to really get in to the spirit.
Details of the exhibition:
Venue: Entrance Hall, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB
Dates: Fri 13 May – Sun 2 Oct 2016