Melting Pot: An Investigation Into The Migration From North To South, Driven By UK Art College, Benefitting Punk, Post Punk And New Wave In The 1970s


This research explores the importance of transference within art education and popular music in 1970s Britain, where ideas and people moved down from north to south. Interconnections across the country led to dynamic and vibrant art (Becker, 1982) and music worlds (Crossley, 2014), connected by three main elements: art pedagogy (Frith and Horne, 1987; Walker, 1987), class background, and the specific moment in time (Banks and Oakley, 2016). With over 160 independent UK art colleges in the 1960s exhibiting autonomous ideals, this was a period when education grants, squatting, cost of living, and community spaces enabled a vibrant collection of creatives from across the country. Described as a  ‘Tower of Babel’  (Pasmore in Yeomans, 1981), the vital art departments at Newcastle and Leeds influenced UK art education, being replicated within centres such as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, and Glasgow.

Roxy Music and Deaf School were two key AS bands who brought life and colour to the greying north through their theatrical music and style, exemplifying Eno’s Scenius, featuring interconnectivity within smaller scenes. This investigation is based on a series of interviews with art school musicians including Eno, Stephen Mallinder, Clive Langer, Gina Birch, Dexter Dalwood and Lester Square. Findings suggest that the transference of Higher Education students from north to south UK is now not as prevalent as within the 60s and 70s. As outlined by Dalwood: “[W]hat you don’t get now is kids from Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield coming down to London to study art, from working class backgrounds. That whole thing, that amazing period where there were artists from so many diverse backgrounds.”  The Monochrome Set’s Lester Square reiterates that  “Art school was not just a melting pot of ideas it was a melting pot of people from everywhere.”


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