Rip It Up and delve into the story of Scottish pop at National Museum of Scotland

Alice Wyllie and Katie McAllister, from National Museums Scotland, listen in to the soundtrack of Scotland at the opening of Rip It Up (Photo Neil Hanna).
Alice Wyllie and Katie McAllister, from National Museums Scotland, listen in to the soundtrack of Scotland at the opening of Rip It Up (Photo Neil Hanna).

The first major exhibition dedicated to Scottish pop music is running this summer at the National Museum of Scotland.

Rip it Up: The Story of Scottish Pop explores the musical culture of the nation over more than half a century, from influential indie pioneers to global superstars.

Writer and broadcaster Vic Galloway and Idlewild vocalist Roddy Woomble at the opening of the the exhibition (Photo Neil Hanna).

Writer and broadcaster Vic Galloway and Idlewild vocalist Roddy Woomble at the opening of the the exhibition (Photo Neil Hanna).

Rip It Up features archive footage and new interviews with artists and musicians, along with iconic costumes, memorabilia, instruments and props from musicians including The Proclaimers, Shirley Manson, Lulu, Midge Ure, Simple Minds, Annie Lennox, Gerry Rafferty, Alex Harvey, Texas, Franz Ferdinand, Young Fathers and more.

The majority of the 300 objects on display are on loan to the exhibition by the artists themselves and in many cases have never before been on public display.

The exhibition is being produced in partnership with BBC Scotland, and a three-part TV series will bring another dimension to the story through the voices of those who made the music, those who witnessed it from behind the scenes, and the fans who lived for it.

A new book complements the exhibition, written by writer, broadcaster and DJ, Vic Galloway, who presents a four-part series on the topic for BBC Radio Scotland.

Vicky Brown, curator at National Museums Scotland, with a guitar on loan from Simple Minds. (Photo Neil Hanna).

Vicky Brown, curator at National Museums Scotland, with a guitar on loan from Simple Minds. (Photo Neil Hanna).

Stephen Allen, exhibition curator said: “Popular music is a shared experience, and a really important one in many people’s lives.

“We want the exhibition to capture people’s imagination and allow them to reflect on their own experiences of listening to and enjoying music.

“Between the objects, the audio visuals and the music, people will be able to learn more about their favourite artists and see their treasured objects up close, but also to discover music that is new to them in a whistlestop tour of over six decades of Scottish pop.”

The exhibition takes visitors through the early beginnings of the music scene, through the dawn of skiffle and the emergence of Lonnie Donegan against the backdrop of cafes and dancehalls, the overlap with Scottish folk and traditional music and the formation of the popular music industry, where artists would head to London in search of the all-important record deal.

Alice Wyllie with two Robotic dancers used on stage during performances by Franz Ferdinand (Photo Neil Hanna).

Alice Wyllie with two Robotic dancers used on stage during performances by Franz Ferdinand (Photo Neil Hanna).

Highlights include a custom trouser suit made for Lulu, Alex Harvey’s cane and famous striped jumper, and a guitar painted for Gerry Rafferty by his friend, the artist John Byrne.

Delving into punk and new wave, the exhibition features costumes, instruments and artwork relating to Josef K, Orange Juice and the Fire Engines, among others.

This was also the time of the Rezillos (highlighted by the green jumpsuit worn on Top of the Pops by Eugene Reynolds), Altered Images (loans from Clare Grogan include a dress made for their 1982 US tour), The Skids (handwritten lyrics and a guitar bought for Richard Jobson in Woolworths by Stuart Adamson) and The Associates (a master tape from December 1980 and a beret worn by Billy McKenzie).

The exhibition features remarkable photographs of many of these artists taken by Glasgow’s Harry Papadopulous, who was a staff photographer for Sounds magazine.

Foundations were laid for the likes of Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits and the Jesus and Mary Chain, who also feature.

Arguably the biggest Scottish act to emerge from the post punk period was Simple Minds, from whom there are two decorated acoustic guitars and a very early gig poster.

They are among artists showcased in the ‘going global’ section of the exhibition, alongside the likes of Average White Band and The Bay City Rollers, Midge Ure, Franz Ferdinand, Annie Lennox, Biffy Clyro, Shirley Manson, Texas and Paulo Nutini.

Bands including The Proclaimers, Capercaillie and Runrig will also feature, as the exhibition explores artists who have made a point of emphasising their Scottish language or identity in their work. Within that, particular parts of Scotland have at different times been notable hubs of musical creativity, most obviously Glasgow, and also Fife with the Beta Band and the Fence Collective.

To conclude the show, an audio-visual installation recreates a live concert environment with a hand-picked selection from Scotland’s rich back catalogue.

Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage said: “I’m exceedingly grateful to the National Museum of Scotland for envisioning the idea for Rip it Up and in doing so, recognising the depth and influence of Scottish artists and their music.

“Scotland has long deserved an examination of its rich musical heritage, the effects of which can be heard all over our globe today.”

Both the exhibition and the National Museums Scotland programme of events are sponsored by Baillie Gifford Investment Managers.