Leicester's 70s punk scene honoured

Punk: Rage & Revolution - through young people’s eyes.

The team behind Leicester's successful 2019 Mods: Shaping a Generation exhibition are working on an exciting new project and exhibition called 'Punk: Rage & Revolution'.


Leicester charity Soft Touch Arts has received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund of £155,585 which has been made possible through money raised by National Lottery players.


BID Leicester will also support the project with sponsorship and Leicester City Council have also contributed funding towards bringing this exciting project and exhibition to life.


Leicester Museum and Art Gallery will host and support the Punk: Rage & Revolution exhibition which will also take place in the Soft Touch Arts gallery space on New Walk.

Christina Wigmore, Business Development Manager at Soft Touch Arts, said: "We’ll be giving young people the opportunity to learn directly from Leicester Punks about their lives, to create their own music, film fashion and art with a message for a high-profile exhibition at Soft Touch and Leicester Museum & Gallery inspired by what they learn and hear.”


The Punk exhibition will enable young people across the city to explore this iconic and irreverent youth subculture by meeting Punks that were part of the scene.


The project will be delivered in partnership with design agency Arch Creative, social history author Shaun Knapp and New Walk Museum and Art Gallery.


It will involve 120 young people from Soft Touch Arts comparing and contrasting similarities and differences in music, fashion, art and the DIY culture associated with Punk.


The exhibition will run in Leicester between June and September 2023 and then tour to Nottingham’s Backlit Gallery and Northampton Museum.


Punk: Rage & Revolution is a response to calls from Leicester Punks to create an exhibition about the Punk scene following the success of the Mods: Shaping a Generation.


The popular exhibition took Leicester by storm in 2019. Over 30,000 visitors from across the country and beyond celebrated the stylish 1960s Mod youth subculture.


It Generated £1.7m for the local economy.


Simon Jenner, BID Leicester Director, said: “The exhibition and festival will celebrate a unique music and fashion subculture and help to raise the profile of Leicester with the potential to attract thousands of visitors, benefitting local businesses through increased footfall in the city centre.”


The video below shows how Soft Youch Arts has worked to change young people's lives.

Political and social issues and the role women played in Punk and movements such as Rock Against Racism will also be featured.


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.”


A group of young curators will work alongside the project research and design team to pull together an exhibition which will feature loans of clothing and ephemera from former Leicester Punks and museum collections.


Exhibited alongside the original outfits will be contemporary ‘Punk now’ exhibits created by young people from disadvantaged backgrounds recruited and supported by Soft Touch and the project team.


To tie in with the exhibition, local venues and organisations will be invited to take part in a Punk Weekender, similar to the successful 2019 ‘ReVive Festival’ that linked to the Mods Shaping a Generation exhibition.


The festival will include films, music, fashion and talks and will take place in venues and outdoor spaces across Leicester city centre.


The project also involves Northampton Museum and Nottingham’s Backlit Gallery, where elements of the Leicester exhibition will be displayed alongside their own locally developed and curated Punk content.


Northampton’s exhibition will focus on their local Punk music scene while Nottingham’s Backlit Gallery will feature young artists using Punk ideology and DIY processes in their work.


This will give the project a bigger East Midlands appeal and will bring economic benefit to those cities as well as Leicester with many visitors expected to visit all three exhibitions.

The East Midlands Oral History Archive and Museum of Youth Culture will use the recordings of Leicester Punks sharing their memories and other content created during the project for their records.


Simon Jenner, Bid Leicester adds: “We can’t wait to welcome ‘Punk – Rage and Revolution’ to Leicester, building on the success of ‘Mod’s – 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.”


The project team is keen to hear from people that would like to share their memories and stories of being Leicester Punks. Contact Christina Wigmore on chris@soft-touch.org.uk.

 

Written by Emily Miller

Emily is a Senior Journalist for Niche Magazine with over a decade of journalism experience. She enjoys going to gigs, visiting galleries and walking in all weathers.