Anarchy auctions in the UK: collectible punk art hits London

If you're compiling a historic memorabilia collection, then it's never a hindrance if you were actually there when the history was being made.

Artist and curator Toby Mott is one collector who can claim to have first-hand knowledge of his favoured era. In 1977, he was aged 14 and right in the middle of London's punk explosion.

For Mott - who once belonged to the ASA (Anarchist Street Army), actually a bunch of kids from Pimlico comprehensive - punk wasn't just about the records, but also about the art surrounding it.

Highlights in a new exhibition of his collection, entitled Loud Flash, include a number of rare Jamie Reid works, who most-famously designed the cover for The Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks LP.

Jamie Reid's iconic Sex Pistols LP cover (right); and The Clash's
London Calling LP, the artwork from which sold at Bonhams for
£72,000 last year

Among Reid's displayed art is a "Never Mind the Bans" poster, designed for the Pistols' troubled 1977 tour during which several local authorities banned the group from playing.

Also on display are works by Linda Sterling, who designed the provocative artwork for the Buzzcocks' Orgasm Addict to match the song's controversial lyrics.

And no punk retrospective would be complete without the photography of Pennie Smith who, along with fellow photographer Kate Simon, helped create the mythologies and legacies of bands like The Clash.

Mott's Loud Flash exhibition won't only be of interest to punk aficionados, but also collectors interested in where the future of the music art and memorabilia markets lies.

For instance, punk has already made its mark at the world's top auction houses.

Punk art continues to consolidate itself as a viable collectibles niche,
with fanzines and DIY posters featuring in the Loud Flash expo

Last year, Ray Lowry's cover artwork for The Clash's famous London Calling LP sold for £72,000, comfortably above its £50,000-70,000 pre-sale estimate.

The "mixed media" front cover features a photograph by Pennie Smith of the group's bassist, Paul Simonon, smashing his bass guitar. It sold with a selection of preliminary pen and ink sketches.

What's more, the classic artwork outsold Michael Jackson at Bonhams' Entertainment sale. The King of Pop's hat and loafers sold for a much lower £22,800 - proving that punk art is a hot niche for collectors and investors alike.

Loud Flash: British Punk on Paper will be held at Haunch of Venison, located in London W1, from September 24 until October 30.


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