July 10, 2024

Artefacts of the early days of Factory Records put on exhibition in London

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(Photos and text by our UK correspondent Simon Helm) Original posters from The Factory club, along with the first steps of the label that housed Joy Division, New Order and Section 25, are being shown by Chelsea Space in Pimlico. Part of London Design Week, the show coincides with the release of special box sets celebrating the influential label.

Called “Use Hearing Protection FAC 1 – 50 / 40″ and curated by Jon Savage and Mat Bancroft, the show covers the period between 1978 and 1982. Among the exhibits are original sketches by Peter Saville, Factory Records letterhead, an invoice for a Joy Division performance, the original Factory Sampler record, and covers from releases by many Factory artists. It provides a concise overview of the origins of the label, which took shape in the immediate aftermath of punk.

The start

The entrance to the show features Situationist material from the heady days of May 1968 that influenced Tony Wilson. The first item that captures attention, though, is a copy of the original poster from the poorly attended Sex Pistols show at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall. That 1976 performance inspired the legend that, although poorly attended, most of the attendees started a band. That list includes members of Buzzcocks, Joy Division and The Smiths.

The selection of merchandise available for sale at the venue includes Unknown Pleasures and Section 25 tea towels, “Use Hearing Protection” t-shirts, Factory badges and a keychain featuring the torch-carrying hound recognisable from the first New Order 12” single, “Ceremony.”

Designed by Peter Saville

A key presence in the exhibition is Peter Saville, the designer who shaped the look of Factory and created the iconic works reproduced in the merchandise. His use of found material and its reincorporation into the visual identity of Factory product is touched on, but in a more compact way than the extensive Peter Saville Show at London’s Design Museum. The show confirms that his eye and hand were integral to the way the label’s products were presented and appreciated.


The first box set to come out will be “Use Hearing Protection: Factory Records 1978-1979″. As well as four vinyl LPs, it will contain three posters, a short film, Factory stationery and an egg-timer design reproduced from the original Factory catalogue items. An included book will have photos by Kevin Cummins and interviews with Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton, Joy Division and others. It is released on 11 October 2019.

The second is “Factory: Communications 1978-1992“, which spans the label’s history. It will contain eight LPs with 63 tracks, including songs from New Order, Joy Division, Durutti Column, Happy Mondays, Electronic, A Certain Ratio and Section 25. It was first released on CD in 2009 and comes out in the new format on 8 November 2019.

Use Hearing Protection FAC 1 – 50 / 40 continues at Chelsea Space until 26 October 2019.Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 11am-5pm and Saturdays 10am-4pm. Official site: chelseaspace.org.

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Bernard - Side-Line Staff Chief editor
Bernard Van Isacker is the Chief Editor of Side-Line Magazine. With a career spanning more than two decades, Van Isacker has established himself as a respected figure in the darkwave scene.

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