Saturday, 24 December 2016

Oh So Pretty (The Mott Collection) reviewed by Denni Rusking

"Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-80" is a compelling 500 page document made up of images from Toby Mott's collection of flyers and zines. The work is messy, raw, bold and often funny. The book made me think about the best aspects of the punk movement. No doubt you'll have seen the classic posters and postcards by Jamie Reid of the queen (with swastikas for eyes and a safety pin through her nose) many times before however few people will seen the covers of Look At The Time, White Stuff or Bored Stiff magazine, flyers for The Damned at the Lancaster Uni or The Jam at The Queens Hall in Leeds. These artworks may have been made quickly by over enthusiastic punks but they seem as important as the music that they were promoting. Below is the cover of Bondage magazine whose editor Shane MacGowen went onto to form The Pogues.

These publications and promotional flyers remain dynamic and immediate. Of course they were never attended to be preserved and cherished but when collected together they remind the reader Punk was more than just spiky haircuts it was about freedom and passion. I like this book as it manages to reflect the inspirational energy of Punk. Maybe what's special about it is the way the editors place sexy photos of Debbie Harry, Adam Ant and Billy Idol in the pop mags next to striking feminist collages by Linder and alongside  the scary propaganda of the National Front. The book really succeeds in giving a warts and all portrait of the late 1970s.

(Phaidon Books ISBN: 9780714872759)
(Review by Denni Rusking 2016)

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