Joe Strummer: Past, Present & Future

Joe Strummer was a hugely talented and revered musical artist, most especially for his work with The Clash, widely acknowledged as one of the most influential groups of all time.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first gig played by Joe’s first band, The 101’ers, at the Chippenham Pub, on Chippenham Road W9 – the group’s name derived from the squat they were living in at the time at 101 Walterton Road.

In 1976 Strummer left The 101’ers to join The Clash; his connection with the diverse culture of this area of West London continued to resonate throughout his life – referenced in many of his lyrics and through his uniquely inclusive musical style, drawing on musical traditions from around the world.

Following his sudden death in December 2002, the community housing association Walterton & Elgin Community Homes (WECH) began to organise an exhibition to celebrate his spirit and energy.

The result is the exhibition ‘Joe Strummer – Past, Present and Future’ at londonprintstudio.  Curated as an installation by artist Gordon McHarg, with the close cooperation of the Strummer estate, the exhibition sets out to encapsulate the vibrancy of Strummer’s life and honour his continuing inspiration to musicians and fans.

‘Joe Strummer – Past, Present and Future’ contains a unique selection from Strummer’s personal archives, including never-before-seen handwritten lyrics, personal drawings and scribblings, rare artefacts and posters that he made at Paddington Printshop (now londonprintstudio) some thirty years ago.  Visitors will also be able to share the experience of sitting around one of Strummer’s legendary campfires, meeting-places for thousands of people every year at Joe’s flag-bedecked camp at Glastonbury.

The show will also contain a large number of never-before-exhibited photographs of Joe Strummer by Julian Yewdall, photographer of The 101’ers and The Clash; his images present a unique and intimate portrait of the musician in his early years.

The exhibition also contains hundreds of handmade flags created by residents at the WECH Summer Festival and art workshops at the WECH Youth Club. These flags, representing the workshop participants’ own cultural origins and personal inspirations, will bring the spirit of Strummer into the present and back to the area that meant so much to him, creating a vibrant and touching celebration of his life.  Visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to make a flag to add to the show.

Debs Bourner the Community Services Manager for WECH sums up the exhibition as; “This exhibition demonstrates the energy of the area.  It is the product of a community that strives to have it’s voice heard and campaigns for positive change and local improvements. The creation and on-going activities of WECH, the squatting campaign and these Joe Strummer events have all evolved from the residents themselves, a quality very much in keeping with the spirit of Joe and his beliefs”.

In the words of Gordon McHarg, “This exhibition shows that Joe Strummer’s energy can still create waves in the present day – bringing together different communities in a spirit of friendship and action to create something special.”

The exhibition will also raise awareness of the Joe Strummer charity Strummerville, which intends to enable the production of music by creative young people who would otherwise be prevented from doing so simply because they lack the necessary funds.

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