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.

Photo gallery

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Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

Factory Records

The Durutti Column