15 Nov 2007
Ben Kelly and Peter Saville entertained a real (Urbis - sold out) and virtual (Second Life) audience last night as part of the ongoing Urbis Hacienda exhibition.

Both delivered short presentations on their oeuvres before answering questions from the floor.

The title of Peter Saville's presentation: 'Changing the here and now instead of going somewhere else', referred to the socio-geographical phenomenon of a country's talent naturally graduating to the capital city and beyond - which was challenged in the late seventies by a group of individuals ("a solar system") orbiting around Tony Wilson ("a large, heavy body"), who decided to stay in Manchester "changing the here and now". Saville himself quickly moved to London, readily admitting to "probably [being] one of those people that goes somewhere else".

Having quickly (re)visited his early Factory designs, Saville handed over to Kelly at the point where their designs first converged: the seminal Joy Division 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' single, based largely on the front cover of Kelly's dissertation "Metal Lined Cubicle".

Ben Kelly - 'The Photo Kid' - reviewed his own early involvement with Malcolm McLaren in London: designing a rehearsal room for The Sex Pistols, 2 x offices for Glitterbest and the Seditionaries clothes shop; and Tony Wilson in Manchester: the 'Ben Kelly triangle' of The Hacienda, Factory Records HQ and Dry Bar. Future projects were revealed: Urban Splash have commissioned a design for their New Islington 'Stubbs Mill' project and the new owners of the old Factory Records HQ have approached Kelly to redesign the interior as a night club/venue.

The truly though-provoking Q&A session which followed generated both interesting observations:

"There can be a point to a former industrial city"
"A lot of what we did is responsible for some terrible things"
"Art and Design need to be taken out of popular culture now"
"Be careful what you wish for"
"the engagement with business (specifically borrowing around GBP 750k against future earnings - which had never been necessary before) ultimately brought Factory down"

and some very revealing asides:

- whilst working on the Glitterbest office Ben Kelly took the call from Tony Wilson inviting the Sex Pistols on to the Granada TV 'So It Goes' programme
- The Factory Records name itself only came about when some form of record label identification was needed on the back of the first 'Factory Sample' single
- Factory Records bought the Factory HQ building for around GBP 300k without actually seeing its interior!

There was even a (serious) question about situationism from, er, Second Life. Post-ironic indeed.

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Peter Saville colour wheel
A Certain Ratio

"Manchester, 1978. In the beginning there were four: Jez Kerr (bass), Martin Moscrop (guitar/trumpet), Peter Terrel (guitar/effects) and Simon Topping (vocals/trumpet). Four thin boys with a name borrowed from a Brian Eno record, the intense, drummerless quartet initially drew influence from Wire, Eno, the Velvets and Kraftwerk, and gained a manager in Anthony Wilson of Factory Records.

"May 1979 saw the release of their first ACR single, the dark All Night Party, although the sound and musicianship of the band would be transformed by the arrival of funky drummer Donald Johnson (DoJo) in August. Over the next few months the band gigged widely, often with Joy Division as part of Factory packages, and recorded demos with producer Martin Hannett as well as a Peel session. Their support slot with Talking Heads on their UK tour in December 1979 set David Byrne on a new course, and provided the compelling live half of their chic cassette package The Graveyard and the Ballroom. Post-punk, ACR now reflected the influence of Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, The Bar Kays and James Brown."

- intro to ACR Biography by James Nice (LTM)

The Durutti Column