Punk Historian Mark Perry In Conversation At ICA London

Punk 40

The ICA London presents Mark Perry in conversation with designer, artist and punk historian, Toby Mott, discussing punk publications and Sniffin’ Glue, a monthly punk zine started by Perry in July 1976. Publication ceased in August 1977 when Perry found his energies absorbed by his new band, Alternative TV.

In addition, during the conversation Mark Perry performs a short ‘avant-punk’ set, accompanied by Alternative TV members Lee McFadden & Dave Morgan.

With its humble roots of Perry’s Deptford flat and its title deriving from the Ramones song Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue, circulation of Sniffin’ Glue soon rocketed to over 15,000 as the fanzine quickly proved to be indispensable to anyone on the scene.

The early days of the punk movement largely failed to attract the attention of television or the mainstream press, and Sniffin’ Glue remains a key source of information about contributors to the scene. A perfect expression of the DIY punk aesthetic, Sniffin’ Gluefit with the do-it-yourself ethos which was already an important part of punk culture. A flood of punk zines followed with identifiable cut and paste graphics, typewritten or felt tip text, misspellings and crossings out. Photocopying also contributed to punk zine look by limiting graphic experimentation to black and white tones and imagery based on collage, enlargement and reduction. Sniffin’ Glue was pivotal in demonstrating that anyone could easily, cheaply and quickly produce a fanzine.

Mark Perry was a 19-year-old bank clerk living in Deptford when he first heard the Ramones debut album in the summer of 1976. Within weeks he had produced the first UK punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue. By mid-1977, Mark became fed-up with just writing about the punk scene and formed his own band, Alternative TV, gaining critical acclaim for their first album The Image Has Cracked and early singles like How Much Longer and Action Time Vision. ATV, as they became known, were one of the first to move beyond the basic three-chord thrash, experimenting with various styles on subsequent releases. The band has continued to play and record over the last 39 years and their latest album Opposing Forces, was released in July 2015.

Like many enduring passions, artist, designer and collector Toby Mott’s relationship with punk started when he was a teenager. Mott was 13 in 1977, when Punk exploded in London. “I was part of it all: the music, the graphics, the social side,” Mott says. “Visually it’s immediate and strong and it’s sexy without being sexist.” Even now, he says, “it influences everything I do and has informed everything culturally that I value.” Mott’s own career stretches from co-founding East London art group the Grey Organisation in the early 1980s to creating the cover artwork for De La Soul’s 1989 breakthrough album 3 Feet High And Risingto designing the fashion line Toby Pimlico. But it’s his expansive personal collection of punk ephemera that has recently led to work curating exhibits and publishing several books. The Mott Collection has been exhibited widely including New York, London and Los Angeles.

The Mott Collection recent publications: Punk in Print 1976-1980: The Complete Mott Collection and Skinhead: An Archive.

Punk Publications at London’s ICA Mark Perry in conversation with Toby Mott  Wednesday 11th May 6:30 pm


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