Pop! Goes the Artschool:
Radical Pedagogy and Creative Experiment in Post-Punk Leeds
A Lecture by Gavin Butt
This lecture explores an overlooked experimental art and music scene in the city of Leeds in the 1970s and 1980s, closely tied to two very different artschools at Leeds University and Leeds Polytechnic. Here a generation of art students brought up on the Beatles and Bowie learnt how to mix their love of pop with avant-garde artistic experiment and radical politics. The roll call of bands that came out of the city at this time includes Scritti Politti, Soft Cell, The Three Johns, The SheeHees, Fad Gadget, Gang of Four, The Mekons, Delta 5, Sheeny and the Goys, Another Colour, and more. Within no more than a five year period most of these acts had formed and taken their particular brand of artistic experimentation out of the gallery and in to the rock and pop world, even on to Top of the Pops.
This lecture explores how post-punk electronic music and post-rock were impacted by performance and conceptual art, as well as Marxist, feminist, and post-structuralist theory – all taught within the city’s artschools at this time. It focuses upon what was made possible by a demographic of students unhampered by levels of debt, as entry to higher education was free at this point in British history. In contrast to today, this lecture will delineate the possibilities of popular expression when social classes freely met at university, and the divisions between avant-garde and popular art were torn down.
Part of the South East Network for Performance talks series