The new Joe Strummer exhibition, a celebration of music, art and spoken word performed among the display of original artefacts owned by the desperately missed clash front man provides a unique evening experience that cannot be missed.
The exhibition, curated by Robert Gordon McHarg III is to be found in the once forgotten back streets of Southwark, Flat Iron Square to be precise. The incredible new space represents the wave of change sweeping through the city. Until recently the railway arches that frame the square were disused, now reinvigorated, the space was designed to provide the local community with a new exciting place to eat drink and socialise (or so I’m told by a gentleman in a suit).
“The Joe Strummer Foundation held their first event at Devonshire House Flat Iron Square last Friday and friends, family and fans came along to support the young musicians, see the amazing new space and enjoy the artwork which has been loaned by Joe’s archive. Rare posters and lyrics littered the walls and the evening was huge success” – Lucinda Garland, Joe Strummer Foundation Trustee
I must say the atmosphere was familiar and communal and could be said as one of a conceptual camp fire that Joe himself would be proud. The exhibition is located in a three storey townhouse, now renovated but still bearing the scars of decades of misuse that even the most discrete of Harley street face lifts could not hide. At the top of the winding staircase is a collection of artefacts, original artworks and writings representative of the clash front man throughout his illustrious career.
Most evocative is Joe’s personal typewriter if you look closely the infamous words of the clash song know your rights can be seen. “You have the right not to be killed. Murder is a crime. Unless it was done. By a policeman”.
These words were first heard by the public in 1982, Shockingly 35 years on they still are as important today as they ever were, recent events in the United States have shown this to be true. For this reason and the recent move toward the far right, the Joe Strummer exhibition is vitally important in this period of dynamic political change, a beacon of light that represents the ideals Joe intrinsically believed in, put simply and fundamentally, equality for all.
I do wonder what Joe would have thought of the rhetoric of president-elect Donald Trump, but I am assured by those who were close to Joe and present at the exhibition to spin yarns of past Strummer endeavours, Joe would have relished the battle for the rights we fought so hard to achieve, leaving me with the feeling that I should be doing something more productive with my time than watching celebrities eating worms in the jungle!
The Joe strummer exhibition provides an opportunity for those who stand for liberal ideals (and by definition those who do not) to enjoy an evening of new music and art, facilitated by the Joe strummer foundation that has supported new independent music for umpteen years. The first artist Emily Capell began the evenings live music with an exciting mix of warm country tones emanating from her vintage Gretsch guitar, mixed with her biting urban lyrical onslaught. This was followed by Tom Bright, again providing musical insights into modern urban life as we move through these times of most profound change.
Finally, Danny Onions presented crafted humorous political tales of poverty-stricken London life in a sceptical manner that can only be provided by someone born and raised in the surrounding streets or similar slums. What is most important, apparent in all of these acts and generally of the night was the feeling of positivity, shared ideals and community.
The Joe Strummer foundation that organised this series of events is dedicated to providing reasonably priced beer and fantastic music in that particular family way no longer seen in the hipster haunts that are the backdrop of much of modern London music culture. In short, if you want to spend an evening with friends old and new, listen to the best music has to offer and witness with your own eyes artefacts that undoubtedly change popular culture, spend an evening with Joe Strummer, if not in person then certainly in spirit!
Strummer Shebeen is a series of fundraising events for the Joe Strummer Foundation.
Our thanks go out to Benj Scrimgeour and all at Flat Iron Square, Gordon, Crispin, Chris Musto, musicians and the Strummerville Crew as well as Marquis Vodka and Domain des Jeanne Wine.