Hitsville UK: Punk in the Faraway Towns
Exhibition of punk graphics, including print material and interactive work. Some of this material is collected online at www.hitsvilleuk.com, together with downloads of related publications and an interactive timeline of UK punk single sleeves.
The research consisted of a detailed analysis of ‘quintessentially punk artefacts’, the seven-inch ‘picture’ record sleeves associated with UK Punk. New perspectives on their production and their graphic characteristics including any recurring visual tropes or pictorial devices and the use of a DIY aesthetic were created. Two important aspects of the research methodology were, firstly, to consider the graphic design of the record sleeves through the prism of the complex sub-cultural codes that were characteristic of UK Punk during this period and, secondly, to view these graphic artefacts as indissoluble from the UK Punk’s musical language.
An additional feature of the research was the mapping of the diaspora of UK Punk from London, Manchester and other large cities to ‘the faraway towns’ by means of a visual matrix that demonstrated a widening geographic spread of seven-inch single production during much of period. The exhibitions, which were slightly different in each venue, celebrated the wide range of graphic approaches adopted and redressed the balance of recent punk accounts which focus on the short-lived activities of UK Punk’s early years.
Together with the visual matrix, the research resulted in an exhibition package that included three reversible posters, and an interactive web-based resource (www.hitsvilleuk.com) which links images and production details of the seven-inch sleeve to its key musical track. The exhibition was shown at the Millais Gallery Southampton, April/May 2007, at the British Film Institute throughout June 2007 (during its re-opening on London’s Southbank which included an ‘Anarchy in the UK’ festival of events), at Rebellion UK, August 2007 at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, and in conjunction with the Post Punk Performance Conference at the University of Leeds in September 2009.
Reviewers and citations have included Mark Pawson in Variant (29, Summer 2007). Russ Bestley also wrote the PUNK MUSIC’ entry in the Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern World, 2007.