A Major Exhibition About The Mods Will Open At Leicester’s New Walk Museum & Art Gallery In April.
Mods: Shaping a Generation tells the story of the 1960’s Mod scene in Leicester and Nottingham and how they were connected via exclusive first-hand eye witness accounts, archive material and unpublished images. The exhibition, which is based on Shaun Knapp’s book, Mods: Two City Connection (published March 2019), also celebrates the 40th anniversary of the release of The Who’s cult Mod film, Quadrophenia, and will include ephemera and original 1960’s clothing as seen in the film which has been provided by designer Roger K Burton. The exhibition will contain a selection of classic scooters and will re-visit legendary hang-outs visited by the Leicester and Nottingham Mods including The Nite Owl, The Il Rondo and the Dungeon. The exhibition has been managed, created and curated via a partnership between Shaun Knapp (Author), Joe Nixon (Arch Media) and Soft Touch Arts.
The Mods and their counterparts were the first post war generation to reach their teenage years without suffering the combined misery of national service or austerity and they were going to make the most of it. These young people, some of whom were now earning more money than their parents, were going to break and smash the mould that society had in place for them. “The Mods were an incredible 1960’s youth sub-culture who shared a common desire to embrace a new found financial and parental freedom and to stand out above the crowd with regards to originality in fashion, music and social status and what they achieved still influences aspects of contemporary life,” said author, Shaun Knapp. “Mod culture provided teenagers a way out from the mundane lifestyle that their parents and older siblings had experienced, it provided them with an identity. National service was out, escapism and independence, both financial and creative, were in.”
From a fashion perspective, it was important for the Mods to look as individual as possible hence, on occasions, there was a desire to move away from what could be bought off the peg. “Apart from a few exceptions, the clothing industry hadn’t really moved on from the previous two decades,” explains Shaun. “So, the younger generation took inspiration from the USA and Europe, in particular Italy, for both style and colour. The dark, baggy de-mob style suits, which were still available, were a definite no-go area.”
Male Mods would have continental style inspired suits made to measure, something that caused a bit of a stir at the time as this was usually the reserve of the middle class, whilst the females would often design their clothes at home, using a pattern that was adapted to suit the preferences of the individual. “Having a relative who worked in the hosiery trade would be a huge bonus with regards to achieving this,” said Shaun. “Both sexes however would on occasions shun the high street shops of Leicester and Nottingham and jump on a train to London and explore the fashion boutiques and tailors of Carnaby Street and the surrounding area or the retail chains which could be found on both Regent Street and Oxford Street.”
The exhibition explores all of the above and more but from the perspective of the young people from Leicester and Nottingham. “The exhibition concentrates on the social, financial and creative freedom that most young people from the day enjoyed,” said Shaun. “It has a focus on Mod fashion, music, individuality, transport, drug use, gender and race, anti-social behaviour and legacy, with the majority of the stories being told for the first time.”
Mods: Shaping a Generation exhibition, takes place at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, between April 13th and June 30th. Free admission. For further details, visit www.shapingageneration.co.uk