Almost 50 years ago slogans were scrawled across the UK screaming ‘Punk's not dead’ - and a new exhibition at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is proving the movement is still very much alive
Activision is a new show at the Leicester Gallery, in the Vijay Patel Building, which involves creative arts students from DMU giving their take on punk activism through fashion, textiles, print, film and photography.
The show, which opens today (Friday) and runs until Saturday 3 June set students the task of choosing something that they were passionate about, made them angry and wanted to change in society.
The huge collection of clothing, textiles, short films, punk-style fanzines, photography, posters and print work, has now been brought together showing an incredible range of creativity, inspiration and originality from students studying MA Fashion and Textiles, BA Fashion and BA Fashion Communications and Styling (FCS).
The exhibition opens at the same time as a major retrospective, celebrating the Leicester Punk scene, called Punk: Rage & Revolution, which is at the Leicester Gallery and Museum in New Walk and is also supported by DMU.
Christine Wigmore, of Soft Touch Arts, is involved in both exhibitions as part of the curation and production team for Punk: Rage & Revolution and also studying on the Fashion and Textiles MA at DMU.
Christine said: “There are so many parallels between what is happening now and what happened when Punk was born.
“There was a cost-of-living crisis then and now, the Cold War between East and West is reflected in the situation with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were strikes across the country while in the 70s we had Rock Against Racism and there is the #BlackLivesMatter movement now.
“Young people do not seem to get the chance to have a say about what is happening right now
“So, this is an opportunity to learn from people that were there and understand there is a lot more to punk than the music and the clothes – it was an activist movement.
“These young people are then being given a platform and a voice through art, music and fashion.”
Macy and Emily are showing work at the Activision exhibition
Emily Jackson, from Aylesbury, is a final year FCS student, who created art looking at trans and non-binary rights.
She said: “There are many people who do not have basic human rights and that is not okay.
“Having an opportunity to do something for a social cause and getting a message across through fashion and art… there is definitely something powerful about it.
“There is a resurgence in Punk which isn’t just the music and the clothes. It’s a lifestyle and a state of mind.”
Fellow third year Macy Rogers, from Surrey, looked at football fandom after she, and her friends, got harassed by supporters coming back from a Leicester City match because of the way they looked.
The parallel between punks being barred from pubs and social spaces because of the way they dressed in the 70s was not lost on Macy.
“There is a lot of a lack of acceptance among football fans, from the struggle to accept players coming out as gay, to racism and abuse of officials,” she said.
Another final year FCS student, Jess Hulley, from East Sussex, based her project on the word ‘vulgar’ after finding a phrase oin the internet which said British women ‘have a reputation as being the most vulgar people’.
Jess looked into the word vulgar being used to describe women
Jess produced a fanzine-style magazine about vulgarity, taking photos and dressing the women who appeared in it.
She said: “I am really interested in Feminism and fascinated about what it means to be lacking in sophistication, good taste and being rude.
“It is such a double standard that men can go about drinking pints and belching in public and be called a legend then women are considered vulgar if they do the same.
“I think being what other people see as vulgar is being punk because you are existing the way you want to rather than giving a damn about the standards that others set.
“It was great to be part of a project in which we could be honest and form our own opinions.”
Elizaveta Piskunova, an MA Fashion and Textiles student originally from Russia, captured images pof two women wearing wedding dres and morning suit with slogans written all over them
She said: “The punk ethos is not really something that is a part of my art. I prefer gentler things.
Elizaveta with some of her pictures going on show
“But I do like angry music and I used that to bring a bit of rebellion - and rude words - into my work!
“It was a bit out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed it. I was not working, I was experimenting.”
The parallel show Punk: Rage and Revolution at Leicester Gallery and Museum in New Walk opens Saturday 27 May and runs until Sunday 3 September. It is produced by Arch Creative, Soft Touch Arts and Shaun Knapp. Partners include The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Leicester City Council, BID Leicester, PPL PRS and DMU.
Punk: Rage & Revolution tells the story of the rebellion, creative energy and political landscape that spawned the UK punk subculture – and the legacy it left behind.
Focusing on the key years of 1977 -1979 and events such as the Queen’s Silver Jubilee clashing with the punk explosion led by The Sex Pistols, the exhibition will also examine earlier influences, as well as the post-punk era of New Wave and beyond.
The memories and memorabilia of those who were part of the punk scene, together with items such as Jamie Reid’s seven-metre mural and iconic clothing from Roger K Burton’s collection of Dame Vivienne Westwood punk-era designs, will bring the story to life.
Posted on Friday 26th May 2023