Punk rock was probably the most life-changing subculture of our times. It stretched way beyond music, into lifestyle, attitude, and politics. 2016 is the 40th anniversary of punk, and to celebrate that we created this exhibition, which was shown at New Art Gallery, Walsall (December 2016) and Parkside Gallery, Birmingham City University (Jan-Feb 2017).
The exhibition’s aim was to mark the impact of punk on people in one town in the West Midlands: Walsall. Much of the media coverage about punk forty years on concentrated on London, or on iconic figures on the music scene, but it’s in towns like Walsall that punk kicked down doors, overturned expectations, and opened new opportunities in how to live your life.
Our project was never intended to give a full and exhaustive picture of the Walsall punk scene. There were people involved in the scene who have moved away, or couldn’t make the dates where we did the interviews and took photos, or who didn’t want to be involved. We’re very thankful to the people who did give up their time to talk about their experiences – good and bad – and tell us what punk meant, and still means, to them.
Thanks, too, to Sophie Pitchford for taking the photographs, to Creative Factory in Walsall for their support for this project, and for Heritage Lottery Fund for providing the fund through their Sharing Heritage programme. We couldn’t have done it without them.