The Manchester show will launch the first archive of British pop culture


A quintessentially Manchester exhibition will launch the British Pop Archive, which is the first-ever national collection dedicated to the preservation and research of popular culture in the UK

The archive, created at the John Rylands Research Institute and the University of Manchester Library, aims to celebrate and preserve British popular music and other aspects of popular culture, including British television, youth culture and the mid-20th century counterculture. Nowadays.

The collection will initially focus on Manchester and British pop culture originating from the city.

The archive will include the band’s original written vision by Joy Division and New Order manager Rob Gretton and Ian Curtis’ handwritten lyrics to Joy Division classics such as “She’s Lost Control” and “Atmosphere.”

It also features original posters for the Sex Pistols concerts at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall and important works by designer Peter Saville who defined Factory Records’ visual template. Also included is the complete corporate archive of Granada Television.

Handwritten lyrics to the song “She’s Lost Control” by Ian Curtis will be featured in the “Collection” exhibition in Manchester, England. (Photo dpa)

“British popular culture is unique. It’s one of our greatest cultural exports,” said archive creator Hannah Barker.

“People outside of Britain, if you talk to them about pop music or music they like, they’ll often talk about British music,” Barker said.

“And in terms of television and film too, I think we have some unique stories to tell there. British television is famous all over the world, so it’s that sense of the importance of British popular culture as a particularly unique export.”

Mat Bancroft, Curator of the British Pop Archive, said: “We are launching the British Pop Archive with an exhibition dedicated to Manchester, filled with unique and previously unseen artefacts. These materials tell the story of a vibrant city with art, culture and music at its heart. .”

The exhibition, ‘Collection’, will explore elements of Manchester’s highly recognizable pop scene with elements relating to The Hacienda nightclub, Factory Records label and some of the city’s most memorable bands including Joy Division and The Smiths.

“We even have a pair of sneakers in one of the archives,” Barker said. She added: “It’s in the archives of Kevin Cumming – he’s a rock photographer and he has a pair of Hacienda sneakers, never worn, in the original box.”

A poster that will be presented in the exhibition

A poster that will be presented in the “Collection” exhibition in Manchester, England. (Photo dpa)

The archive will then be expanded to become a national collection and create a comprehensive representation of British popular culture.

Barker attributed the idea for the project to the deaths of Buzzcocks singer Pete Shelley and The Fall singer Mark E Smith, and wondered if the musicians had any archives and what would become of them.

As part of creating the archive, conversations were held with people heavily involved in the development of Britain’s pop culture scene in the 1960s and 1970s, including Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.

“One of our biggest supporters is Johnny Marr, so I got to meet him and talk about the project and I got to talk to other people and family members of those involved,” Barker told Britain’s Press Association (PA).

“People are often very keen to make sure things stay in the hands of the public, because a lot of those things are the kind of things that could easily be sold on auction sites.

“So it’s great to be able to keep records of businesses or individual lives that are publicly available.”

The exhibition will run from May 19 to January 15, 2023 at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library at the University of Manchester.

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