Punk Singles Matrix

This visual matrix pays tribute to the vast range of UK seven-inch singles that came under the banner of punk and new wave between 1976 and 1984. It aims to show new perspectives on the development of graphic styles and regional variations in punk identity away from the major metropolitan centres, and beyond the key designers of the period who feature in a range of art and design histories. The timeline of UK punk single releases shows the development of graphic styles related to a number of evolving punk sub-genres across the wider regions of the country. It is also based on a broader timeframe than usually associated with UK punk – from the first wave of UK punk to the regional diaspora and DIY innovations of the late 1970s, and new interpretations of the musical, visual and political aspects of punk in the early 1980s.

Around 1,200 UK punk single sleeves were mapped regionally and chronologically, showing the development of local stylistic approaches and relating to the development of a range of sub-genres of UK punk which had political and cultural significance, particularly within a local framework. The inclusion of a number of punk-related releases which could be said to be on the periphery of the genre, for instance those defined as proto punk or new wave, also helps to clarify the musical and graphic characteristics of punk as a distinct category. Large format and interactive screen-based versions of these matrices were developed as an exhibition, Hitsville UK: Punk in the Faraway Towns, in London, Southampton and Blackpool during the spring and summer of 2007.