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Photos: Ian Curtis' Iconic Guitar Returns To Manchester For Exhibition


The exhibition will be held on Sat 19 June at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester.

For the first time since it's well-publicised auction in 2020, and in its first major public display in over 30 years, the iconic, white Vox Phantom VI teardrop guitar owned by Joy Division's Ian Curtis, made famous in the Love Will Tear Us Apart music video, has made a high-profile return to Manchester. The public will get a rare opportunity to see the instrument, which having been sold to a private collector, now returns on loan as part of Use Hearing Protection: the early years of Factory Records opening on Sat 19 June at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester.

Check out photos below!

Returning to the city this week, the guitar became synonymous with the band and the singer, who died in 1980. Its distinctive shape ensured its place in Manchester music and post-punk legend, having been used by Curtis from September 1979 and through Joy Division's 1980 European tour. Purchased by the band's late manager, Rob Gretton, the Vox gave rise to Joy Division, and later New Order's preoccupation with electronic music as Curtis's emergence as a guitar player freed up Bernard Sumner up to experiment with synthesisers.

Use Hearing Protection uses seldom-seen archive materials and objects, plus specially-commissioned video and audio installations, to give an exclusive insight into and reveal the lesser-known stories of the early period of one of the world's most influential record labels and celebrate its place at the heart of Manchester and the wider UK's music and creative industries. The exhibition runs from Saturday 19 June 2021 to Monday 3 January 2022 with tickets available to book now.

Visitors will be guided through Factory Records' formative years from 1978-1982, exploring how post-industrial Manchester allowed the label to spearhead innovation in the field of music, technology and design, giving the city an authentic voice and distinctive identity. Founded by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus, the label played an influential part in the city's transformation from an industrial powerhouse to a beacon of art and culture by reclaiming its past and leading a new wave of creative industries, a move that continues to influence the city's culture today.

The first 50 catalogue numbered Factory artefacts will be on display, including the iconic FAC 1 poster, designed by Peter Saville, as well as items relating to Joy Division, New Order and Durutti Column.

A series of amplified stories will shed light on individuals who played an important but lesser-acknowledged role in Factory's early years, including five key women involved in its beginnings - Lindsay Reade, Lesley Gilbert, Gillian Gilbert, Ann Quigley and artist, Linder.

As well as discovering previously untold stories and the label through the eyes of those who were there, audiences will be immersed in the label's musical ideas through interactive experiences offering the opportunity to get hands-on with technologies of the time, including a mixing desk and synthesizer (visitors will need to bring their own headphones to enjoy these experiences). The 'Gig Room' will also transport visitors back in time through large-scale projections of early live performances by bands on the Factory Records label.

The geography of the city and its suburbs inspired Factory's visual agenda, and its iconic aesthetic has been reflected throughout the exhibition's design. Ben Kelly, who collaborated on record sleeve designs with Peter Saville for early Factory releases before going on to design the Haçienda, led on the exhibition's creative direction in collaboration with Manchester-based company Modern Designers, who have brought the vision to life.

Use Hearing Protection has been developed by the Science and Industry Museum in association with consultant curators, Jon Savage and Mat Bancroft, and partner Warner Music UK. It reinterprets and expands on the original Use Hearing Protection: FAC 1 - 50 / 40 exhibition held at Chelsea Space in London in 2019, and will display a number of items from Jon Savage's personal collection of Joy Division artefacts (acquired by the museum in 2019), as well as objects loaned from the estates of both Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton.

Jan Hicks, lead curator of the exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum, said: "This is an unmissable exhibition for anyone eager to explore the origins of this influential label and its long-lasting legacy. The early years of Factory Records did so much to influence the city and the UK's contemporary creative industries, and this exhibition explores why its unique development could only have happened in Manchester at this time and involving this group of people.

"It's a story that the Science and Industry Museum is uniquely placed to tell. Factory Records was hugely influenced by Manchester's industrial heritage, which we sit at the heart of, and was progressive in its use of digital and electronic technologies, which are again core focuses of the stories we tell here at the museum.

"This is a hugely exciting exhibition. Having been originally planned to take place last year, I'm delighted we're finally able to bring the experience to our visitors. We've taken the additional time to expand the objects and stories available, giving audiences access to a rich collection of Factory artefacts, first-hand accounts and immersive experiences that transports them back to an era where Manchester's contemporary identity was formed."

Use Hearing Protection: the early years of Factory Records at the Science and Industry Museum is a new exhibition, supported by the Players of the People's Postcode Lottery. It will be located on the first floor of the museum. Tickets are available now and are priced at £8 for adults and £6 for concessions, with under-12s going free.

For more information or to book tickets, visit

Photos: Ian Curtis' Iconic Guitar Returns To Manchester For Exhibition

Photos: Ian Curtis' Iconic Guitar Returns To Manchester For Exhibition

Photos: Ian Curtis' Iconic Guitar Returns To Manchester For Exhibition

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