The Poly Styrene Archive is launching its first public touring exhibition of the personal and artistic archive of Poly Styrene; artist, punk icon and lead singer of the historic punk band X-Ray Spex.
In May of 2019 Poly Styrene’s daughter, Celeste Bell and curator Mattie Loyce co-curated and produced the first exhibition of this work with a show entitled Identity! A Poly Styrene Retrospective, hosted 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning in Brixton, London, UK where Poly Styrene was born and raised.
The aim of the exhibition is to explore Poly Styrene’s complex legacy and work as an interdisciplinary artist, highlighting her experiences as a woman in music history, a woman in punk, being mixed race Black British, and someone living with mental health difficulties.
After this initial opening of the archive co-curators Celeste and Mattie are now making efforts to open and tour the work to an international audience. Recognizing the importance of Poly Styrene’s legacy, and the unique access to an extensive and intact archive, the intention is to share her work and story, and create site specific exhibitions engaging her work.
The archive consists of over 200 personal artworks and documentation. This includes but is not limited to: original drawings and sketches, album artwork drafts and final artworks, collages, personal and band (X-ray Spex) photography both print and transparency film, archive video footage of performances, original lyric pages, original promotional materials (label produced press releases, biographies), original press clippings, archive clothing, archive original 45rpm and 33rpm vinyl pressings, original band paraphernalia (stickers, pins, etc), personal notes and letters.
"Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard, but I think - oh bondage up yours!"