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Atmospheric images of Liverpool’s youthful and exhilarating post-punk era

Published: Wed April 29, 2009  News Feed
Sound And Vision: Liverpool Exhibition

Atmospheric images of Liverpool’s youthful and exhilarating post-punk era feature in a new exhibition by photographer Francesco Mellina at the National Conservation Centre from 1 May to 31 August 2009.

Sound and Vision: Music and Fashion photographed by Francesco Mellina, Liverpool, 1978-82 showcases 60 photographs – most of them previously unseen.

The exhibition reveals a unique visual record of the city’s music and fashion scene, capturing the striking individuality and self-expression of gig-goers and acts in this pivotal era from New Wave to the New Romantics and Rockabillies.

Featuring  iconic Liverpool bands and artists such as Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Pete Wylie and Pete Burns, Mellina’s photographs document key gigs and music venues of the time, along with many more names who went on to achieve worldwide status including Roxy Music, The Clash and The Ramones as well as artists such as Mick Hucknall and U2 who were opening support acts at the time.

As well as being a photographer, Mellina also managed Liverpool band Nightmares in Wax, who later became Dead or Alive. This established him on the music scene and uniquely positioned him to intimately capture bands and fans alike through his pictures.

The exhibition offers a unique visual record of the edgy fashion and music trends that were created, nurtured and encouraged in Liverpool during the late 70s and early 80s. Pauline Rushton, the exhibition curator,  says:

“Liverpool’s difficult times bred creativity in both music and fashion while the city was in the grip of economic decline. Teenagers’ antidote to life on the dole and low wages was to embrace music and fashion, seeing it as a means to express themselves.”

Followers of the emerging music scenes had their own look and fashion sense.  Their distinctive outfits could not be bought ready-made, so were carefully put together and developed to produce individual looks.

“It is fitting for National Museums Liverpool to display Francesco’s work as the exhibition is unique to Liverpool and captures a time that no other city can lay claim to.”says Pauline.

Mellina captures these distinctive styles and creations giving fascinating glimpses and rare insights into a time that many still try to imitate but can never truly replicate.

This is the first time Mellina has displayed his work on such a large scale, he says:

“Although Italian, I consider myself an honorary Scouser. I love the city and it has been my home and creative inspiration for many years. I couldn’t play an instrument and I couldn’t sing but my photography was my contribution to the cultural and artistic scene so to be able to display my work in the city is a huge thrill.”

Francesco Mellina was born in Polistena, Calabria, southern Italy, in 1952. He taught himself English by listening to early Beatles and Rolling Stones records before setting off, aged 16 on a tour of Europe that would see him eventually settle in Liverpool in his early 20s. Francesco trained in photography at Liverpool Art School, now part of Liverpool John Moores University. In the 1970s he went on to manage the Liverpool band, Nightmares in Wax - later re-named Dead or Alive - and he also set up Black Eye Records. Mellina was also nationally recognised and regularly contributed to magazines such as The Face, Smash Hits, Melody Maker and NME.

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