6 Jun 2016

Q&A with Mark Wigan from The Museum of Club Culture

Hull based artist Mark Wigan is a Visual Artist, Illustrator, Art and Design Educator and Author inspired by nightclubs and music culture. He also opened the world’s first and only Museum of Club Culture (MOCC) in Hull in 2010 which helps celebrate past and present nightclub cultures and street styles from around the world. 

We had a chat with Mark to find out about their upcoming exhibition Juxtaposition and his love of all things club culture.

mark wigan

Where did the idea come from to open the Museum of Club Culture, and why in Hull?

Good ideas come from many ideas and this turned out to be an interesting one. My partner artist and curator Kerry Baldry originally thought of the project in early 2009 when we were based in Manchester. We moved back to Hull later that year as I was offered a lecturing post at Hull School of Art and Design, I am an alumnus of the School of Art and Design from 1979 to 1982.

The development of Hull’s creative quarter in the Fruit Market provided the opportunity to put the idea into practice and by summer 2010 it was up and running. Research that feeds the museum has centred around the relationship between narrative and memory, exploring notions and concepts including performativity, identity, the networked self, phenomenology and the contemporary role of the artist in the post digital landscape.

The museum is an artist-led space and as an artist I respond to narratives embedded in place exploring themes of identity and the values and meanings of cultures including issues of cultural stereotype, historical and cultural geography and cartography, cultural otherness, the practice of collecting, folk art, satire and the carnivalesque.

MOCC aims to celebrate past and present nightclub cultures from around the world. How does MOCC celebrate Hull’s club culture?

We have a local, national and transnational approach to curating the museum. We have exhibited work by Hull based artists such as George Norris and Colin Young and have curated a number of exhibitions of local nightclub memorabilia from the 1960s to the present day. We recently made a documentary about Hull’s clubscene called Capturing Clubland featuring interviews from dozens of clubbers from across the generations. A sense of self and shared heritage is embedded in place and sites in the city are resonant with histories, beguiling little narratives and autobiography.

What is it about the characteristics of club culture which interests you the most? We look behind the stereotypes and champion the cultural significance of club culture and associated sub cultures, fashions and music genres and the important role they have played in shaping modern culture. The key themes of the museum are club culture as a form of meaning and identity and the importance of memory, social history and community.

Do you have any favourite clubs, and how do you feel these have shaped your own identity?

I started clubbing in 1974 and Wigan Casino Soul Club comes to mind. Northern Soul remains an enduring passion for me personally. During the post punk era around 1978 to the early 1980s Kerry and I became regulars at The Welly, Spiders and the Silhouette on Spring Bank, before moving down to London where we promoted our own clubs in the West End on and off for twenty years.

I took photographs, drew illustrations and wrote the club gossip page for i-D magazine, designed artwork for records and flyers, painted murals in clubs and spent seven nights a week in them. In 1986 I painted murals in London’s Limelight club which were described as Hot! by a passing Andy Warhol who suggested to the club’s owner that they fly me to New York to paint the Limelight on 6th Ave which I did. Andy introduced me to the New York art and club scene and amazing clubs like Area, Danceteria, Palladium, Save the Robots and Paradise Garage.

I’ve also produced projects in Japan since the late 1980s including nightclub interior design and my favourite club back then was P.Picasso in Tokyo an underground seminal nightspot in the city no bigger than the excellent Adelphi club in Hull.  


How has the MOCC grown since you first opened in 2010?

During our time in the Fruit Market we had tens of thousands of visitors and have received extensive positive press, TV, radio and television coverage. We’re proud to play our part in Hull’s successful bid to become UK City of Culture in 2017. The permanent archive of club memorabilia keeps expanding and we spend time digitising what must be the biggest collection of club related artefacts in the UK. For the past year we have relocated to the High St in the old town due to ongoing works at Humber St.

What initially inspired you to put together your latest exhibition Juxtaposition and why did you choose the anti-art movement DADA as the basis for it?

This summer it is 100 years since the birth of DADA at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. A number of the artists selected to exhibit have had their work featured in my book series on graphic art titled Basics Illustration published by Bloomsbury and the video artists have had their work screened worldwide in Kerry Baldry’s curated programmes of one minute artists moving image.

How would you describe your approach to curating the exhibition?

Hectic because we have had a lot of highly imaginative work being sent to us from all over the world


What can we expect from MOCC for the rest of this year and 2017?

The artist and former muse of Lucian Freud Sue Tilley will be exhibiting her portraits of clubbers, and we will be hosting experimental direct film-making workshops and present audio visual pioneers Addictive TV who will perform Orchestra of the Samples.

As 2017 will be a transformational year in Hull, we hope to play a pivotal role as an active social agency at the beating heart of the city’s cultural experimentation. For starters expect absurdist schemes, mermaids, giant mirror-balls, castles in the sky from Denmark, subcultures from Japan, experimental film and video projections, seafaring tales initiating new understandings of the past, scrolling digital youth cultures, imagined futures and radical manifestos!

We aim to develop the creative landscape of the city by connecting art and people in new ways. We hope to do this by employing the curatorial and interpretive voice and encompass an exploratory and experimental approach to taxonomies, museology, archives and collections and the discourses of categorisation. We will be engaging in dialogue with other museums, libraries, colleges, schools, galleries and collections we will be reinterpreting collections making them more accessible through cataloging ideas, digitisation and engaging the local community in creative ways.

Juxtaposition – an exhibition of contemporary collage celebrating the enduring legacy of DADA throws its launch party at The Museum of Club Culture on 17 June 6 – 8.30pm


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