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Smiths Reform In Manchester

Jonathan Smith on the exhibition behind our cheap headline

Published on July 9th 2013.


Smiths Reform In Manchester
 

‘THE SMITHS in Posters Exhibition’ has opened at Barcelona NQ Café Bar.

Supplied by Catalonian Marc Capella, in conjunction with the Manchester Photographic Gallery, the collection comprises of 38 original promotional posters from all the band’s albums and singles. Initially displayed in Catalonia, this is the first time a full collection of Smiths’ posters has been shown in their entirety.

With The Smiths’ cult following growing in number each year, the next stop for Marc was to bring the collection back where it all started, Manchester.

On top of their outstanding musical contribution The Smiths had one of the most impressive collections of record artwork ever. Designed by Morrissey himself, the sleeves featured a host of well-known faces - ranging from film stars such as James Dean and Alain Delon to local lasses Pat Phoenix and Viv Nicholson. The posters are in effect an integral part of The Smiths' legacy.

Smiths posters

Smiths posters

Like many teenagers of the 1980s, exhibition curator, Marc Capella became a devoted disciple of Smiths after being awe struck by their distinctive sound on his brother’s compilation album, ‘Hatful of Hollow’.

After a phase of imitating Morrissey by quiffing his hair, donning NHS specs and carrying gladioli in his back pocket Marc didn’t encounter the Smiths again till 2001, when, on a whim, he bought a 12x24inch promotional poster of ‘What Difference Does it Make?’ from the Music & Goods Exchange in London.

Smiths posters

Smiths posters

After a accumulating over 60 posters, of not just The Smiths but other Manchester favourites like James and New Order, disaster struck when his parents accidentally binned the whole lot refurbishing their house in 2011.

“The most disappointed I have ever been in life,” he says of the traumatic moment, yet undeterred by his loss he vowed to assemble the most complete collection of Smiths’ posters.

A labour of love as much as a way to preserve The Smiths' legacy for future generations, he painstakingly trawled the internet for hours on end to complete the set - spending over 12 hours straight online to acquire ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’.

Smiths posters

Smiths posters

A year, and 38 posters, later Marc had magnificently achieved his goal, with over 21,000 followers on Facebook and a successful exhibition of the posters in Catalonia it soon became apparent that there was demand for the collection.

With The Smiths’ cult following growing in number each year, the next stop for Marc was to bring the collection back where it all started, Manchester.

A full house of posters pertaining to, debatably, the most recognised group from Manchester, coupled with an owner from Catalonia meant the only logical choice for the exhibition was the Northern Quarter’s Barcelona NQ Café Bar.

While the quiff may have faded and his future interests in other musical ventures, Marc is clearly still extremely passionate about The Smiths, citing their overall package of “music, lyrics and artwork the best ever” and a belief that the response to the exhibition will be “massive”.

With last year’s Manchester based display of Morrissey and Smiths by Kevin Cummins, an unmitigated success, there is little reason to doubt Marc’s prediction.

Though the posters cut an impressive sight as they circle the bar in chronological order, it was the familiar Smiths’ classics in the background and a surprise guest appearance of Caryn Gough, who played a major part in all the artwork’s design,that gave my visit to the exhibition not only a sense of authenticity, but also an impressive notion of nostalgia to fans.

Additionally a specially designed promotion poster for the show was available to buy (£20), making for a surprisingly decent souvenir for fans in a time when band memorabilia is often cheap, tacky, or both.

With little chance of Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce (lest we forget short lived fifth member Craig Gannnon) likely to reunite, this is the closest Smiths’ fans will get to seeing the band in all their glory again.

‘The Smiths in Posters Exhibition’ is free and will run from Thursday 4 July-Thursday 1 August at the Barcelona NQ Bar Café.

All the pictures by Dave O'Keefe. 

Barcelona NQ, 6 Hilton Street, City, M4 1NB. 0161 839 7117

 Smiths posters

 

Smiths posters

Caryn GoughCaryn Gough

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