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Iconic images from Manchester’s rock history go on display at Central Library

A free exhibition celebrating Manchester’s rock music history from the dawn of punk to the present day goes on display at Central Library from Thursday 11 October.

‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ includes iconic, rarely-exhibited images of legends of the city’s music scene, including Buzzcocks, Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses
The exhibition, presented by Rockarchive.com, has been curated by the photographer and founder of Rockarchive Jill Furmanovsky and the music writer Jon Savage.
It takes the punk era of the late 1970s as its starting point, moving on through the Factory Records and Madchester years, through to the rise of Oasis in the mid-1990s.
Manchester was key to the rise of punk, with the Sex Pistols playing a legendary gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976, before Buzzcocks independently released ‘Spiral Scratch’ in 1977.
The band’s decision to start its own record label is often credited with inspiring the ‘DIY’ ethos of indie music, which came to prominence in the following years.
The images were taken by some of the UK’s best music photographers, including Jill Furmanovsky, Kevin Cummins, Paul Slattery, Steve Double, Peter Walsh, Pennie Smith and Howard Barlow.

A wall of images is dedicated to newer Manchester artists, including shots of

  • Bugzy Malone
  • The Courteeners
  • Elbow
  • Children of Zeus
  • Pins, Hurts
  • Pale Waves and more…

with many of these photos taken by young, emerging photographers.

The exhibition also includes an image taken at the One Love Manchester concert, plus another from Noel Gallagher’s fundraising performance as the Manchester Arena reopened following the tragic events of May 2017.
Artists featured in the exhibition include:
  • A Certain Ratio
  • A Guy Called Gerald
  • Buzzcocks
  • The Charlatans
  • Chemical Brothers
  • The Distractions
  • The Fall
  • Happy Mondays
  • Inspiral Carpets
  • James
  • Joy Division, Magazine
  • New Order
  • Oasis, Slaughter & The Dogs
  • The Smiths
  • The Stone Roses
  • 808 State.
Jill Furmanovsky, co-curator of the exhibition, said: “When my ‘Oasis: DNA’ exhibition finished showing at Central Library in 2017, the idea of a wider Manchester rock music exhibition seemed a natural follow-up.
“We decided to concentrate on showing gritty images of those bands and musicians whose music is so deeply rooted in Manchester that you can’t imagine rock music, or the city itself, being the same without their contribution.
“So long is the reach of the city’s collective musical talent, we could have created an exhibition twice the size of this one.”
Central Library is also home to the Henry Watson Music Library, which offers a wide range of rock and pop biographies for loan, plus musical instruments and recording software, which can be used for free.
Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “Following last year’s hugely successful Oasis exhibition, we were keen to work with Rockarchive again to host a free exhibition showcasing Manchester’s rich musical history.
“Central Library’s exhibition space is the perfect location for this remarkable collection of images, which will enthral Manchester music fans.”
Buzzcocks “Fiction and Romance” image, by Jill Furmanovsky.
“It was a typical music press type shoot in August 1977. No assistants no lighting.
Just me and the band with their press officer, in this case supremo, Alan Edwards, walking about, stopping to take pictures by road signs, street art, in a fish and chip shop, on a climbing frame in a children’s playground, and finally in a local library where the band stood in front of two bookshelves labelled Fiction and Romance.
“As scholars of punk will know, there is a Buzzcocks song of that name.
The question that has still not been answered definitively, not even by the band themselves, is which came first, the picture or the song?  I still maintain the picture came first…”
The fine art prints on display at the library are accessible for sale from www.rockarchive.com.

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