Sound and Vision – Music and fashion photographed by Francesco Mellina, Liverpool, 1978-82
National Conservation Centre 1 May to 31 August 2009
This exhibition of some 60 photographs is a great snapshot of the Liverpool club scene and its related fashion in the late ’70s – early ’80s.
Although I’m the same age as Francesco I missed all this at the time as I was already married with young children – and working shifts – and studying in my spare time but I heard the music of course and saw some of the characters around town.
My favourites are the pictures of the audience and the off-stage shots of the bands (Julian Cope shopping in Marks & Spencers – sounds about right) as I can’t really get excited about yet another image of a guy standing on stage playing a guitar and / or singing, I’ve seen so so many. Siouxsie, on the other hand, I’m happy to see more of and Pete Burns in black! contact lenses is the stuff of nightmares.
Well worth a visit, if you were post-punk or new romantic you may see yourself, if not you will get some idea of what its like to have a really vibrant music scene in your town – sadly a thing very much of the past
Listen to my interview with Mellina, ‘The man in black’ on the defnet media website
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.
Mellina trained in photography at Liverpool Art School, now part of Liverpool John Moores University, in the late 1970s. He went on to manage the Liverpool band Nightmares in Wax – later re-named Dead or Alive. He also set up Black Eye Records.
His photographs record the fashions of the various sub-cultures in clubland during the pivotal post-punk era. During this time he developed a career as a nationally recognised rock photographer, and was a regular contributor to magazines such as The Face, Smash Hits, ID, Melody Maker and NME.