Punk era exhibition to be hosted in Leicester, with support from local businesses and organisations

Leicester-based charity Soft Touch Arts in partnership with Arch Creative and Shaun Knapp are creating an interactive and multi-sensory exhibition, which will take a look back at the vibrant and angst-ridden era of punk rock in the late 1970s. The exhibition, entitled Punk: Rage and Revolution, will take place at Leicester  Museum and Soft Touch Arts, both on New Walk.

With main funding coming from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the exhibition will take a deep dive into the history of the punk era, looking not just at the music and fashion but also the attitude, art, female empowerment and the legacy it has left upon future generations.

A number of local Leicester businesses and organisations are also supporting the event, which will open on 27 May and run through to early September 2023, they include BID Leicester, Leicester City Council and New Walk Museum and Gallery, PPL PRS Ltd and De Montfort University.

The exhibition takes on even more sentimental meaning this year with the recent sad death of iconic designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, who was largely responsible for the birth of punk fashion.

Designing and creating clothes which would go on to become the identity of the punk community, Westwood worked with Malcolm McLaren to shape the alternative style of 1970’s Britain. Punk: Rage and Revolution will include content from Roger K Burton, who worked with  Westwood and who owns the world’s largest collection of sub-culture clothing – so expect to see some unusual and exciting designs on show!

Fashion won’t be the only focus of the exhibition, art will also play a large part, with original artwork from Jamie Reid on show. Reid is the artist who designed many of the notorious record covers for The Sex Pistols, creating the now iconic typeface cut from newspaper headlines. Reid has also created a fantastic 7-metre punk inspired mural, which will be available to view during the exhibition.

The event will also include stories from local Leicester residents who will share their memories and memorabilia from life in Leicester in the 70s and punk era, including gig posters, autographs, clothing, and newspapers. Young people across Leicester are also playing their part and exploring what punk means now – comparing and contrasting political and social issues through projects and workshops with Soft Touch Arts. The work they create in response to learning about and from the original punks will be on show in the exhibitions.

Of course, no exhibition about the punk era would be complete without music, and in August, there will be a ‘Punk Weekender’ festival, 18-20th August 2023. Held at a number of open spaces and venues across the city, with live music, films, talks, fashion and a celebration of an era that reflects the atmosphere in the UK at the time with political unrest, working class revolution and a need for change.

Chris Wigmore, Business Development Manager at Soft Touch Arts said: ‘The project team are proud to be bringing such an exciting and inclusive exhibition to Leicester. Involving local people who were part of the scene and uncovering their stories, memories and creativity has been a joy, whilst giving young people the opportunity to express their ideas and responses to what they are learning about punk has highlighted that many of the issues punks rebelled against in the 1970s are still relevant today. It’s a must-see exhibition for anyone interested in youth culture, social change, fashion, music and art and we’re expecting 1000s of people to come and visit.’

Andrea Gray, Managing Director, 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 legacy for 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 ground breaking fashion designs of Vivienne Westwood 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!’



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