M Shed exhibition charts seven decades of music in Bristol

Issue date: 19 April 2018

Punks in Bristol 1982

Staff and students from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have played a major role in shaping a new exhibition charting music in Bristol since the 1950s.

Running for three months at M Shed museum, the Bristol Music: Seven decades of sound exhibition will take stories told by people all over the city to celebrate and debate Bristol music.

Informed by an advisory group of local music experts including producers, authors, DJs, promoters and venue owners, the exhibition sponsored by UWE Bristol will reveal aspects of Bristol music through a series of zones.

Dr Rehan Hyder, a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at UWE Bristol, is the exhibition advisor and content developer. Students from the Media Culture & Practice, Graphic Design and Creative Media Design degree courses have been involved in everything from capturing interviews with music fans, designing posters and album covers to creating a location-based phone app which allows exhibition visitors to tell their personal musical stories and plot them on a map of Bristol.

The exhibition will explore the festivals, venues and mix of styles, genres and sound that have shaped Bristol's musical heritage, posing the questions: “Is there one definitive 'Bristol sound'?” and “Where in the city is the heart of musical Bristol?”

Hundreds of records will be on display in the Shopping for Music section, while visitors will be transported back in time in the mini Club, where seminal nights from five different venues including The Bamboo Club and Motion will be recreated. Ashton Court Festival plays a starring role in the Festival zone while a graffiti-covered 1990s hatchback will be home to a unique car karaoke feature.

A public appeal for stories led to an influx of anecdotes, photographs, fanzines and memorabilia which will appear alongside photography by Beezer who documented one of the most iconic periods in Bristol's music history - the 1980s – where the burgeoning scene threw artists such as Roni Size, Mark Stewart and the Wild Bunch (who later went on to form Massive Attack) into the spotlight. Students from the Media Culture & Practice course at UWE Bristol collected first-hand accounts from members of the 1970s-1980s Avon Soul Army music scene for audio and visual features at the exhibition.

Dr Hyder said: “Bristol emerged as an internationally recognised 'music city' towards the end of the last century. The creation of these musical cultures and innovations has been driven not only by artists and producers but crucially by the people of Bristol themselves. Attempts to define the so-called 'Bristol Sound' have tended to oversimplify the story of music in the city. This exhibition will focus instead on music makers and music lovers across the decades in order to highlight the rich cultural experiences provoked and inspired by the sounds of the city.”

Louise Jennings, Associate Dean (Strategic Partnerships) in UWE Bristol's Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education, said: “We're proud to be supporting an exhibition which celebrates the city's rich and eclectic musical history in such a comprehensive and inclusive way and pleased our staff and students are playing an important role in making it happen.

“As a university, we have forged close links with Bristol's core arts and cultural institutions as part of our City Campus. This wonderful exhibition at M Shed complements our strong presence in the heart of the city at the neighbouring Arnolfini, Watershed and Spike Island.”

Marti Burgess, owner of Lakota nightclub and trustee of Colston Hall, said: “I cannot wait for this exhibition to bring to life the rich music history of Bristol. I am particularly looking forward to be transported back to the Lakota of the 90s when me, my friends and everyone else used to dress up and dance to the best house music. Lakota had a real party atmosphere and the DJs were the best in the world alongside home grown Bristol talent.”

The exhibition will run between 19 May and 30 September. Entry is 'pay what you think'.

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