Off beat: New exhibition lifts lid on one of North’s great unsung anti-heroes

A major exhibition lifting the lid on one of the North’s great unsung anti-heroes opens at Manchester’s John Rylands Library today.

Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground showcases the prolific work and global influence of the Lancashire-born writer, artist, musician, author and publisher, who died in 2004.

Nuttall was at the centre of the network of artists and writers that cultivated the 1960s International Underground scene.

Driven by social dissent and fear of imminent nuclear attack, Nuttall and his circle pushed the boundaries of decency, art and creative expression as a form of rebellion.

A lot of what we see today as modern activism can be traced back to Nuttall including concepts such as flash mobs, performance poetry, magazines as artworks and graphic novels all of which owe something to his legacy.

Nuttall was regarded by parts of the Establishment as a dangerous troublemaker.

His book Bomb Culture was criticised in Parliament and the Guardian labelled him a ‘priest and prophet of permissiveness’, alongside well-known subversives such as Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg and Fidel Castro.

The exhibition features rarely-seen examples of Nuttall’s work including the self-published My Own Mag, a first edition of Bomb Culture, correspondence with other underground writers and original artwork.

Other members of the International Underground whose works feature in the exhibition include William S. Burroughs, Michael Horovitz, Alexander Trocchi, Douglas Blazek, Mary Beach, Charles Plymell, Harold Norse, Carl Weissner and Eric Mottram.

Visitors will be able to flick through virtual versions of My Own Mag, The International Times and a rare Nuttall illustrated manuscript, using a digital touch table.

The exhibition runs until March 5, 2017. For more information click here

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