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Leicester-based Soft Touch Arts has received a National Lottery grant of £69,000 and BID Leicester sponsorship of £29,899 towards the Mods: Shaping a Generation project that will take place in the City between April-June 2019, delivered in partnership with Leicester City Council and design agency Arch Creative. Matt Mead delves into the forthcoming activities for Louder Than War.

The press release reads as follows:

Mods: Shaping a Generation is a unique project that celebrates the remarkable story of the stylish 1960s youth sub-culture and the 40th anniversary of the release of the cult mod film, Quadrophenia.

The funding will incorporate:

  • A major exhibition at Leicester’s New Walk Museum and Art Gallery opening in April 2019 that tells the story of the mods but through the eyes of those that were there. The exhibition, curated by Leicester-based social history author Shaun Knapp, is based on his book, Mods: Two City Connection (published 2019) and includes eye witness accounts and photographs from Leicester and Nottingham mods, most of which has never been seen or heard before. The exhibition will include ephemera and original 1960s clothing, provided by designer Roger K Burton, and scooters as seen in the film Quadrophenia.
  • Soft Touch Arts will involve up to 100 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, giving them the opportunity to meet the older generation and participate in creating an ‘inspired by’ Mod culture exhibition at Soft Touch Arts to run alongside the New Walk Museum exhibition.
  • A photographic exhibition at Leicester’s LCB Depot. The photographs will capture Leicester and Nottingham mods from the 1960s to today, many of who will be standing outside iconic buildings and venues that played a key role in their lives during the mod era.
  • A documentary about the 1960s, including the mod period, produced by Arch Creative and young people from Soft Touch, which will be premiered at Phoenix Arts, Leicester, in 2019.
  • A website, which will be audio/visual driven, which will utilise the source material used within the exhibitions and the books. The website will provide the opportunity to include even more images/audio reminiscences than those used in the exhibition and can be built on and developed over a set period of time. To tie in with the exhibition, local venues and organisations are planning a two-week mod festival, ReVive, from June 15th-30th 2019. The festival will include films, music and fashion and will take place in venues and outdoor spaces across Leicester city centre.

One of the organisers is Christina Wigmore. She spoke to Matt exclusively for Louder Than War:

Just a bit of background: the project came about through a chance meeting between 3 Leicester people doing different things but with an interest in youth subculture and design, fashion, music etc. Joe Nixon (director of Arch Creative), Christina Wigmore (director of local youth arts charity Soft Touch Arts) and author Shaun Knapp had an interest in the mod story in Leicester for different reasons.

Joe’s late father John (Jelly) Nixon, a well-known local musician was a mod in the 60s and Joe had heard an audio interview with him telling the story of his time as a mod and some of his contemporaries: Alan K Fletcher, who wrote the Mod Crop Trilogy and Quadrophenia, plus Roger K Burton who designed the costumes for the film. Joe had the idea of making a documentary film, telling the story of the mods and 1960s Leicester.

Whilst doing research, he heard that Shaun Knapp was writing a book about Leicester and Nottinghammods and made contact. Joe and Shaun approached Christina to see if any young people involved in the charity might be interested in helping make the film. Christina had an interest herself in youth subculture fashion and music, having run an independent clothing shop and played bass in alternative bands (including Leicester band Crazyhead) and she saw the potential for a bigger social history/heritage project involving mods from the 60s and young people creating their own inspired by a mod multi-media exhibition. The project blossomed into Mods: Shaping a Generation, which attracted funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and sponsorship from BID Leicester.

Leicester Museums Service offered their main gallery for 3 months April 13th – 30th June and the team set about involving local people in creating a major exhibition at Leicester’s New Walk Museum and Soft Touch Arts Gallery. The interest and buzz around the exhibition has also kickstarted a new retro arts, music, fashion and film festival for Leicester called ReVive from 14-30th June, which ties in with the exhibition and celebrates the 40th anniversary of Quadrophenia.

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The ReVive Festival ties in with the exhibitions and aims to bring more visitors to the exhibitions. More up-to-date info can be found on the website here

Links to all the opening weekend events are on Mods: Shaping a Generation website and on their Facebook page

Find the Mods: Shaping a Generation Exhibition jukebox playlist can be found here

There is also going to be another exhibition called Mods 1964 from 14-30th June featuring black and white photos of Mods as they were in the 1960s and how they are now. It was featured in the Independent recently

Article by Matt Mead. Further articles by Matt can be found via the Louder Than War author archive pages.

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