Former Calderdale artist featured in new exhibition

Co-curators Jay Jeff Jones and Douglas Field using the exhibitions interactive digital touch table.
Co-curators Jay Jeff Jones and Douglas Field using the exhibitions interactive digital touch table.

An artist that was inspired by the Calder Valley is to be celebrated in a new major exhibition in Manchester.

Jeff Nutall, an accomplished poet, artist, writer, actor, musician and theatre innovator, was a resident in Calderdale during the 1970s and 80s and some of his writing and many of his landscape paintings feature the area.

The exhibtion ‘Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground’ opens today (September 8) and will run until March 2017 at John Rylands Library in Manchester.

The artist is known for his controversial views in the 1960s.

Heptonstall-based writer Jay Jeff Jones , the co-curator of the exhibition, said: “Nuttall’s contribution to modern British culture has become overlooked, but he was regarded as something of a genius of his time.

“He abhorred the mainstream and challenged orthodoxies, but always celebrated what it is to be human.

“It’s hard to think of anyone today who can match his originality or range of talents.”

The exhibition features examples of Nuttall’s work including the self-published My Own Mag, a first edition of his most famous work Bomb Culture, correspondence with other underground writers and original artwork.

He was at the centre of the 1960s Underground scene and driven by social dissent and risk of imminent nuclear attack, Nuttall and his circle pushed the boundaries of decency, art and creative expression as a form of rebellion.

Nuttall was considered by parts of the Establishment to be a dangerous troublemaker with his book Bomb Culture being criticised in Parliament and the Guardian labelled him a ‘priest and prophet of permissiveness’, alongside people like Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg and Fidel Castro.

Other members of the International Underground whose correspondence or works feature in the exhibition include William S. Burroughs, Michael Horovitz, Alexander Trocchi, Douglas Blazek, Mary Beach, Charles Plymell, Harold Norse, Carl Weissner and Eric Mottram.

Visitors will be able to flick through virtual versions of My Own Mag, International Times and a rare Nuttall illustrated manuscript, using a digital touch table.

For information visit www.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/off-beat or call 0161 306 0555.

Due to the adult nature of the content, the exhibition is not recommended for children.