Photo-punk: 40 images from the birth of UK punk by Ian Dickson and Kevin Cummins

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Photo-punk: 40 images from the birth of UK punk
by Ian Dickson and Kevin Cummins


Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
22 November 2016 – 5 March 2017


Special preview and photographer Q&A: 21 November, 6-8pm


A new display at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery explores the birth of UK punk through 40 photographs by Kevin Cummins and Ian Dickson, as the music, fashion and cultural movement celebrates its 40th anniversary.


Photo-punk: 40 images from the birth of UK punk documents the phenomenon’s early years of 1976-79, in key locations including London, Manchester and Liverpool.  The display, in Brighton Museum’s Prints & Drawings Gallery, surveys Cummins’ and Dickson’s work as they documented the first waves of the new ‘dole queue rock’, capturing the bands, the fans and the mood.


Exhibiting together for the first time, these vanguard photographers created extraordinary images of new wave bands including The Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Clash, Buzzcocks and Siouxsie & the Banshees, as well as punk poet John Cooper Clarke.  As the scene grew they captured the swell of new energy and talent, from The Adverts, The Slits and X-Ray Spex to Magazine and Joy Division.

Joan, Manchester c. Kevin Cummins
Joan, Manchester c. Kevin Cummins


Initially self-taught, Ian Dickson started photographing rock stars in 1972 and joined the NME in 1973. After a short stint with National Rockstar, he was offered the position of staff photographer with Sounds, and was in the front line when UK punk exploded in 1976.


Ian says: “In my view, punk was the last great youth movement that still reverberates today – which is why there is still so much interest in events that happened 40 years ago. The time since then has really flown but the images themselves still seem so fresh, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with both those who were there and later generations.”


After studying photography in Salford Kevin Cummins quickly became the premier documenter of Manchester’s burgeoning punk scene.  He had a 25-year career with the NME, where he became chief photographer, going on to be a founding contributor of The Face and a contributor to myriad national and international publications.


Kevin says: “Photographing punk when it hit Manchester was my first foray into the world of music photography, where I went on to make my career.  The city was a key location for the development of UK punk and post-punk, and I’m proud that these now-iconic images are being showcased 40 years later in another creative city like Brighton.”

The Clash 1977 c. Ian Dickson
The Clash 1977 c. Ian Dickson


Photography highlights include:


  • Early images of UK punk pioneers The Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash.
  • A never-before-exhibited Sounds cover image by Ian Dickson, captioned ‘The face of punk’, featuring Clash fan Shane McGowan before he found fame as lead singer of The Pogues.
  • A survey of those inspired to join the punk movement, from Buzzcocks and Siouxsie & The Banshees to poet John Cooper Clarke.
  • Iconic photography of Joy Division by Kevin Cummins.
  • Candid images of punk fans around the UK.

These vibrant images are displayed alongside punk memorabilia lent by Kevin Cummins and the 1977 film Punk in London, by German student Wolfgang Büld (distributed by Screenbound), which captures performances and views from the movement’s biggest year.


A Gibson guitar heavily used by original Damned member and Brighton resident Captain Sensible is also on display in the Museum’s adjacent Fashion Gallery, along with a distinctive stage outfit.  Captain Sensible said: “This guitar has been thoroughly road-tested in typical Damned fashion – having been set on fire and attacked with an axe.  Amazingly, it has survived to tell the tale!”

– ENDS –


Notes for Editors


Press images for Photo-punk are available at (login: press / dragons).  Please note that only two Kevin Cummins images can be used to promote Photo-punk before Kevin’s usual image licensing fees apply – please contact Jo Nightingale for more details.

Press images for the film Punk in London are available  (login: press / dragons).

For further information or interviews please contact Jo Nightingale on or + 44 (0)1273 296718Please note that I work Mon, Tues and Thurs only – for urgent enquiries in my absence please contact or 03000 290906.




Class of ’76 Bite-size Museum pop-up short talk
24 January 2017, 12pm (free with admission, members and residents free, drop-in),
Brighton Museum
A special opportunity to hear photographer Ian Dickson discuss his recollections and work included in the Photo-Punk display.

Display and venue details


Photo-punk: 40 images from the birth of UK punk by Ian Dickson and Kevin Cummins
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
22 November 2016 – 5 March 2017
Included in Museum admission fee/residents, members and children free
Twitter: @BrightonMuseums


About Kevin Cummins


After studying photography at the University of Salford Kevin Cummins became the premier documenter of the north west’s burgeoning punk scene.  He went on to have a 25-year career with the NME (including ten years its chief photographer), was a founding contributor of The Face, and is a contributor to myriad national and international publications.


For a full biography please see:


About Ian Dickson


Ian Dickson’s work has appeared in Disc, Record Mirror, New Musical Express, Sounds, Vox, Mojo, Q, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. In 1992, he held his first exhibition in London followed by several around Europe, and in 1994 a selection of his work was shown at the MTV Awards in Berlin, the Brit Awards at Alexandra Palace and the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo and Copenhagen.


In August 1995 he was first recognised by the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame And Museum, with his Rod Stewart ‘pyjama portrait’, and in October 2000 a book of his punk photographs, Flash Bang Wallop!, was published by Abstract.  He currently lives in Brighton with his wife and children, where he is concentrating on disseminating his body of work on the web and through galleries around the world.


About Brighton Museum & Art Gallery


Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is one of Britain’s oldest public museums.  Located in the Royal Pavilion Estate at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, its collections showcase arts and crafts from across the world and history from Ancient Egypt to modern Brighton.