Global exposure for Shaping A Generation

With just over two months to go before the Mods: Shaping a Generation exhibition opens at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in April, interest in the project is gaining momentum from across the globe. And no, that wasn’t a typo. From our social media profiles, we know that people are flying in from Australia, Germany, France and Greece to be there for the opening weekend. Brexit permitting, of course.

We all knew that ‘Mods travel’ but this has taken us all a bit by surprise. They guys that are flying in are original 60s Mods who have now made their homes in foreign climes and the fact that they are going to so much trouble to be in Leicester for the opening speaks volumes about how Mod culture played a huge part in their lives, and probably still does. The hotels are not only filling up with ex-pats – folk are also travelling in from all over the UK to take part – the Nottingham Mods, in particular, are leading the way with this apparently.

The launch of my new book, Mods: Two City Connection, in March kick-starts the proceedings and then its full steam ahead with the exhibitions at New Walk and Soft Touch Arts and then the Mods: 1964 photographic exhibition at the LCB Depot and the Revive festival in June.

The Mods: 1964 exhibition is going to be fascinating and I can’t wait for this to open – Joe Nixon has captured the 1960s Mods as they are today superbly, and all in glorious black and white.

The fact that some of the shots were taken against the backdrop of the original 1960’s Mod related buildings and hangouts, makes it even more interesting. The exhibition at New Walk Museum has already picked up a ‘2019 must see’ recommendation from Art Fund magazine and is scheduled to be included within an array of media outputs, both locally and nationally.

The fun part of the project has, as always, been the research Joe and I have spent some considerable time looking over old news articles and photographs both at the Record Office and the Leicester City Council photographic archives. The latter was interesting just from an observational perspective – who on earth had the bright idea to pull all of those beautiful old buildings down and replace them with what’s there now? How could anyone think that what was proposed to replace them was going to be an improvement on what we already had (think Haymarket)?

The other observation was how slim nearly everyone was – a sure sign that the arrival of the countless fast food outlets from the 80s onwards has had a dramatic effect on our waistlines. The newspapers at the Record Office were equally fascinating, it was incredible how so many subjects that make the headlines today – racism, immigration, Europe, youth-related violence, poverty etc – were making exactly the same headlines then. I guess nothing’s really moved on that much, it’s just wearing a different set of clothes.

Shaun Knapp