No Machos or Pop Stars — book launch

You are invited to a special launch event for Gavin Butt's book No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk.

After punk’s arrival in 1976, many art students in the northern English city of Leeds traded their paintbrushes for guitars and synthesizers.

In bands ranging from Gang of Four, Soft Cell and Delta 5 to the Mekons, Scritti Politti and Fad Gadget, these artists-turned-musicians challenged the limits of what was deemed possible in rock and pop music. Taking avant-garde ideas to the record-buying public, they created Situationist antirock and art punk, penned deconstructed pop ditties about Jacques Derrida and took the aesthetics of collage and shock to dark, brooding electro-dance music.

In No Machos or Pop Stars, Gavin Butt tells the fascinating story of the post-punk scene in Leeds, showing how England’s state-funded education policy brought together art students from different social classes to create a fertile ground for musical experimentation.

Drawing on extensive interviews with band members, their associates and teachers, Butt details the groups who wanted to dismantle both art world and music industry hierarchies by making it possible to dance to their art. Their stories reveal the subversive influence of art school in a regional music scene of lasting international significance.

This event will include a wine reception with the author and preview of a specially curated exhibition of art by post-punk musicians, Becoming The Ouroboros. Exhibiting artists includes University of Leeds fine art alumni John Diamond, Jacky Fleming, Tom Greenhalgh, John Hyatt, Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Jane Ralley and Mark White.

Copies of the book will be available to purchase at a discounted rate.

About Gavin Butt

Gavin Butt is an alumni of Fine Art at Leeds who studied with Fred Orton, Griselda Pollock and Adrian Rifkin in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is currently Professor of Fine Art at Northumbria University, Newcastle.

Book cover for No Machos or Pop Stars by Gavin Butt


How to book

Book your place via Eventbrite.

Afterwards on the same evening, Scritti Politti and Mekons77 will be playing live at the Brudenell Social Club to continue the evening's celebrations (NB this is a separately ticketed event).


Members of the Mekons and Delta 5 among fans and friends as pictured in Melody Maker, February 3, 1979. Photo: Jill Furmankovsky.