Archiving the sanctioned version of punk and post punk

  • Martin James (Speaker)
  • Paul Hollins (Speaker)

    Activity: Invited talk or paper presentationInvited talk (e.g. Keynote or guest speaker)


    Archiving the sanctioned version of punk and post punk .
    Paul Hollins and Martin James

    There has been a proliferation of scholarly interest in the Punk aesthetic, art ,design and publishing (Worley 2020, Bestley 2020, Drayton 2018) and specifically work conceptually characterised as Do It Yourself (DIY) culture. Fanzines, arguably, represent the epitome of this cultural form of communication, unofficial, unsanctioned, often produced on primative equipment.
    Conversely, less has been written about officially sanctioned mediums of communication of the first wave punk bands themselves, many of whom intentionally positioned themselves as being representative of their audience; notions of distance between performer and fan frowned upon. A noteble exception to this practice was Siouxsie and the Banshees, establishing ‘distance from their audience’ (Paytrees 2002) the band sanctioned and operated an official fan club; the Siouxsie and the Banshees File.
    In this paper Hollins and James examine aspects of this sanctioned communication, discovering commonalities with the punk aesthetic and ethos in terms of content and production in the context of the recently discovered Siouxsie and the Banshees File archive.
    The archive was curated by the band’s personal assistant, artist and writer Billy ‘Chainsaw’ Houlsten. Houlsten was responsible for the editorial, design, production and distribution of the file for sixteen years between 1978 and 1994, alongside offical artwork and merchandise. The File, at least stylistically, echoed fanzines with it’s design and production qualities initially prodcued as a typed foolscap size letter. The explanatory/introductory newsletter in the autumn of 1979 stated and intent to provide ‘A direct link to the band ,whereby you will be kept informed of all of their projects and activities… ’ Houlsten (1979) It evolved into something more professional that mirrorrred the bands own creative and musical development over the post-punk period.
    The authors were presented with a rare opportunity to re-examine the File content with Houlsten and in doing so reveal much about the bands relationship with its fans and the occasional gem; such as the approach made to Siouxsie to appear on celluloid in the third Star Wars film as ‘queen of a dark distant planet’ and a comprehensive account of the bands break up in Aberdeen 7/9/ 79. Moreover the file presents a unique visual record of a band’s artisitc and creative development.
    Period13 Dec 2020
    Held atPunk Scholars Network
    Degree of RecognitionInternational