24/09/2010 — 13/11/2010

Fan Club and My Generation

The George Formby Society, Blackpool convention 1962

Collection of The George Formby Society



Susanne Bürner, Conohar, Jeremy Deller and Nicholas Abrahams, Graham Dolphin, The George Formby Society, Japanese Fanzines, Land of Lost Content, Steve Porter, stars-portraits.com, Jessica Voorsanger


Fan Club is an exhibition of material and artwork that reflects the devotion, creativity, and love generated towards music stars by those who idolise them.

The exhibition includes Jeremy Deller and Nicholas Abrahams’ film The Posters Came from the Walls, (2007), a documentary about the fans of British pop band Depeche Mode, which presents stories of faith and devotion from around the world including how the band’s music formed the soundtrack to liberation in countries of the former Soviet Union.  Jessica Voorsanger’s work Codeine, (1994), about the American slowcore band of the same name, explores a similar form of fandom and includes letters received by the band from their fans and related ephemera collected by the artist over the three months during which she made the work.

On-line international fan art forum stars-portraits.com includes thousands of portraits of celebrities, with Michael Jackson currently the most popular musician depicted. This exhibition includes over fifty images of the deceased star selected from the website. Whereas some of the artists choose to copy from famous images of Jackson, others represent him from an entirely imagined and personal perspective. Portraits of Steve Porter’s musical heroes are tattooed on his body. He is attempting to meet each star in order to persuade them to autograph their etched image on his skin, which he then has permanently inscribed.

Graham Dolphin’s Jim Morrison busts, (2010), are reproductions of an amateur bust produced by a fan that adorned the singer’s grave at Pere La Chaise. Dolphin produced several versions to show the changes of its condition during the 1980s as other fans added their own tributes and decorative embellishments over time. Similarly, Dolphin’s work Bench, (2010) is a replica of a wooden bench, which has become an inadvertent memorial to Kurt Cobain by being situated overlooking the site of the rock star’s suicide.

The idolisation of Elvis Presley appears on several occasions in the exhibition - in Susanne Bürner’s film 50.000.000 Can’t be Wrong, (2006), a compilation of slowed down film footage which focuses on the hysteria created by the star’s fans, while a collection of memorabilia and newspaper cuttings accumulated by Elvis fanatic Elsie Lilley, which now forms part of Stella Mitchell’s collection at her Land of Lost Content museum, is the remnants of a bedroom shrine. In contrast, Conohar’s series of photographs Graced by Elvis, produced at this year’s European Elvis Championships in Blackpool, is a portrait of those who form part of the industry of impersonating the star, helping keep the legend alive.

Blackpool is the spiritual home of The George Formby Society, as it was for the star himself, and on four occasions each year the branch societies meet for a convention in the town. Founded in 1961 to perpetuate the name of the star, the exhibition features material from the Society’s archive including film footage of members’ performances from a convention held earlier in the year.
In what was to be Formby’s final television appearance in 1960 he spoke about stardom:
“But then people say to me ‘How did you become a star?’ It’s a daft question isn’t it. I mean, what do we do? We don’t do anything. We don’t become stars. You people make us stars.”


Installation images of Fan Club can be seen here.






A V&A touring exhibition

Top Of The Pops was launched by the BBC on New Year’s Day in 1964, and went on to become the longest running TV show in British history. On that night The Rolling Stones were the opening band; the photographer was Harry Goodwin.

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s the show featured a host of singers and stars and set many previously unknown bands on the road to fame. This exhibition brings together 200 of Harry Goodwin’s most striking and memorable photographs from this time: from Bob Dylan and The Beatles to David Bowie, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, The Jackson Five and The Supremes.

These images capture the mood and style of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the impact of its musical stars. They celebrate those who are still actively part of the contemporary music scene and those who are remembered with veneration and affection.

As the show’s resident photographer from 1964 to 1973, Harry Goodwin’s unique collection of photographs remembers them all. In many cases, where the original footage has been lost, his photographs are the only surviving records of these classic performances.

A total of 250 images from the V&A’s Harry Goodwin collection will feature in the book “My Generation. The Glory Years of British Rock” by Alwyn W. Turner that accompanies the exhibition.


Installation images of My Generation: The Glory Years of British Rock. Photographs from Top Of The Pops 1964-1973, by Harry Goodwin can be seen here.