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Dennis Morris – PiL

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Something appears to be stirring in the streets of London. The familiar stench of sweat, smoke and an inconceivable quantity of hairspray hangs in the air. I could be wrong, I could be right…

Yes it’s the beginning of The 40th Anniversary of Punk! Throughout the year our capital city is playing host to a series of events, celebrating the fashion, music and photography of punks glory days. It goes without saying that the wild eyed, flamed haired figurehead of the movement will feature heavily throughout. John Lydon, AKA The Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten, saw Punk fade into New Wave; a more experimental-pop era of music in which he formed the band Public image Limited (PiL). In their early years, the band worked closely with photographer and designer Dennis Morris to create a visual identity that captured the social and political tensions rippling through the country in 1978-79.

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One of the bands most iconic pieces of design is the case Morris created for PiL’s album Metal Box in 1979 A metal container like that of a celluloid film canister was embossed with the band’s new logo, which Morris had designed to resemble a breakable medicine tablet. Manufactured in Hackney before factory closures, the packaging was a relic of local London production, a mode of production fast becoming obsolete.

An exhibition showcasing Morris’s work with the band will be held by the ICA in March. According to the gallery it will document “the evolution of the band’s identity, from his (Morris’s) influential journey to Jamaica with John Lydon in 1978 to the design of the iconic Metal Box”. Always ones to celebrate our Punk heritage, we’re eager to catch a glimpse of these rarely seen photos and original design work. You can begin clambering to get in on the 23rd of March when the exhibition opens!

For more information on the visit the ICA website: 

https://archive.ica.art/whats-on/dennis-morris-pil-first-issue-metal-box

 

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