Nipped back to Chelsea Space gallery yesterday for a better peak at Mick Jones’ Rock & Roll Public Library, the environment/junkstallation unveiled last week at a packed private view attended by such faces as Paul Simonon, whose own exhibition we covered here last year.
The aim of the show is to present for public consumption the sheer amounts of “stuff” Jones has collected since he was a football, fashion and music-mad teen. This is all now housed in two giant lock-ups in west London, one of which acts as the rehearsal studio and writing space for Carbon/Silicon, Jones’ band with old friend Tony James.
The studio lock-up is lined with red velvet and features a changing selection of posters, books, mags, DVDs, record sleeves, toys and games intended to spark creative ideas; as a one-time art student Jones proves himself adept at creating an environment.
Yesterday the exhibition/installation did indeed have the air of a library; visitors, including students from the Chelsea College Of Art behind Tate Britain (where Chelsea Space is situated), flicked through the mags, books, records and ephemera, while monitors screened videos and movies and the sound system blasted a typically Jones mix of rock&roll, country, dub and his own music.
We were there to have a gander at the threads, of which there are many spotted around, including several shirts designed and made for The Clash by Alex Michon and Krystyna Kolowska (as outlined in Chapter 22 of THE LOOK) and Mick’s incredibly distressed and bleached Levi’s jacket, which brought back memories of 84/5, the cover of the first B.A.D. album, and The Bottom Line clip first spied flickering in the corner of BOY.
As you’d expect from the titfer-fancying Jones, there’s a fair selection of hats, including those worn on the cover of BAD singles V Thirteen and Just Play Music and the Dread At The Controls helmet in the clip for The Clash’s The Call-Up.
There are naturally quite a few contributions from James, Jones’ former partner in London SS, including a Sigue Sigue Sputnik toy, which provides an excuse to show SSS in this purely nuts performance of the great (Stock Aitken Waterman-produced) Success and Rio Rocks from Brazilian TV show Fastao in 1988. Flaunt it!
Chelsea Space director Donald Smith has put on a series of singular shows over recent years, including Riot Of Our Own, about the hey-day of Rock Against Racism, a five-week occupation by the team from architects Will Alsop, the work of Steve Thomas (co-designer Big Biba) and I Feel Alright, a retrospective on the great London store Burro.
It was great to see The Globe sign looking so well preserved; this brought back an entirely different set of memories from the 90s of that groovy space in Talbot Road. Didn’t even know it was still open.
The studio environment is evident in this clip of The News by Carbon/Silicon:
Some – among them, we understand, the estimable Jah Wobble – believe the collection betrays the self-conscious approach of punk’s original west London contingent, and the show certainly contains elements of The Clash’s “Last Gang In Town” bloke-ish mythologising.
But Jones and James’ hearts are definitely in the right place; far better those that are interested – and Smith tells us they’re receiving around 150 visitors a day – have a chance to touch, feel and enjoy this vast and at times peculiar collection than it moulder in a lock-up somewhere off the M40.
On the evidence of yesterday’s attendance, there is as much interest from women as men, which is encouraging; too often this area is the domain of anally-retentive middle-aged geezers.
What THE LOOK wants to know is: what happened to Mick and Tony’s matching You’re Gonna Wake Up tees, as sported the fateful night they met Bernie Rhodes in 1975?
Mick Jones’ Rock & Roll Public Library runs until April 18 at Chelsea Space, 26 John Islip Street, London SW1p 4JU. Tel: +44 (0)7841 8783129.