Have Some Imagination

Towards a Manifesto for Arts Education

7 February 2025 4.00pm
Call for conference contributions

Have Some Imagination: Towards a manifesto for arts education will be a free, international conference addressing the transformational value of creative learning for envisioning and sustaining collective futures. It is being organised by the Baltic x Northumbria University Institute and will be held at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK on Friday 7th & Saturday 8th February 2025.

Gavin is co-organising the event.

Activities will involve talks, workshops, keynote lectures, and a collective envisioning project to strategise for an arts education of tomorrow. We want to hear from academics, schoolteachers, artists, community activists, students, policy makers and leaders of the creative industries with proposed contributions. Find out more here.

Deadline for contributions: 27 September 2024.


Talk at Brno Pride week

24 May 2024 6.00pm
Vasulka Kitchen

As part of Brno Pride week festivities in the Czech Republic Gavin will be delivering a talk on Ridiculous Theatre and the influence of the queer underground on 1970s rock music. This will be held at Vasulka Kitchen, established by Steina and Woody Vasulka, videographers extraordinaire of experimental arts since the 1960s. Free to attend. All welcome.


Torn Edges

Gavin to present at symposium about Punk, Art and Design History

20 March 2024 2.30pm
London College of Communication, UAL

Over the past twenty years, there has been a growing academic interest in music and youth subcultures. Punk studies have moved beyond relatively limited histories of the early scene in New York or London to reflect a much deeper critical analysis of punk music, fashion, politics, philosophy and aesthetics around the globe over a period of more than fifty years. The relationship between punk, art and design history is a relatively new and emerging field within the broader theme of punk scholarship.

This public symposium brings together key researchers in this emerging field: Marie Arleth Skov (curator and art historian, Berlin), Gavin Butt (Northumbria University), Rebecca Binns (London College of Communication), Russ Bestley (London College of Communication), Ana Raposo (ESAD, Porto), Ian Trowell (independent scholar), Simon Strange (Bath Spa University) and Maria Elena Buszek (University of Colorado Denver).


Archive of Art School Dissent

13 March 2024 10.00am
Publics, Helsinki

Gavin will be speaking at a day long public event at Publics in Helsinki, Finland.

Rather than attempting to create an all-encompassing survey, the Archive of Art School Dissent aims to bring discussion to a number of global locations to consider how trans-geographical entanglements between education, geo-economic circumstances, cultural conditions, and communities have led to dissent in art schools, how alterity has been articulated and how consequences have fed back into predominant or alternate systems of artists pedagogy.

This event is the first in the series.

Hosts: Chris Evans, Academy of Fine Arts Researcher and Magnus Quaife, Academy of Fine Arts Professor in Artists Pedagogies

Invited panel: David Munoz Alcántara, Sezgin Boynik, Gavin Butt, Luis Guerra, Pauliina Pessonen, Elina Merenmies, Paul O’Neil, H Ouramo, Delphine Paul & Corin Sworn.


Hearing the Art School

Popular Music between Pedagogy and Punk

21 February 2024 2.00pm
Leeds Arts University

Gavin will be delivering a lecture as part of the Research Dialogues series at Leeds Arts University.

His presentation will explore the history of art education in Leeds, exploring how students created new music in the gap that opened up between a culture of art college experimentation and that of a burgeoning punk movement. I will play and comment upon audio of art school music by bands both famous and obscure including Gang of Four, Fad Gadget, Sheeny and the Goys, Three Johns, Another Colour, Shee Hees, Cast Iron Fairies, Smart Cookies, Household Name, and Soft Cell.


Between Dream and Disillusion

Group work in the art school

24 January 2024 4.30pm
Department of History of Art, UCL

Focused on overlooked and yet significant developments in the city of Leeds, this presentation will address the world-making possibilities and challenges of group creation within the post-1960s art school.

Eschewing the traditional focus on outstanding teachers or exceptional individual student-artists in most writing about art education, Gavin’s case studies will instead include protean ‘intermedia’ groups from the early 1970s, late seventies art school bands, a feminist photography collective and Black art affiliates in the early 1980s.

Building toward a larger history of group work in art education, the lecture will ask: How might we learn from such histories in reimagining an art education of the present and for the future?


Rock is Ridiculous

How the Queer Underground Changed Music Culture

7 November 2023 12.30pm
Texas Christian University

Gavin will be giving the Nancy Quarles Stuck Art History Lecture at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas on November 7th.

This talk will focus on initial research for a new book project on Ridiculous Theatre and 1970s rock music.

It will focus upon trans rocker Jayne County’s attempts to transfer transgressive styles of sexual and gendered self-presentation from the New York queer underground to the mid-1970s rock industry. Gavin will assess how County’s bid to make it as a glam rock artist (in her band Queen Elizabeth) and then as a punk artist (in The Electric Chairs) was informed by the riotous examples of queer and trans visibility in an underground art and theatre scene which spawned many other rock performers including David Johansen, Patti Smith and Ruby and the Rednecks amongst others.

In the context of the Nancy Quarles Stuck Art History lecture the talk will consider how queer art history can look beyond its disciplinary purview to comprehend the cultural impact of queer art in contexts well beyond the social milieu and critical circuits of the art world.


Between dream and disillusion

Group work in the Art School

30 October 2023 3.00pm

In this event Gavin will focus on three moments across the history of art education in Leeds when students came together to make work as a group. Eschewing the traditional focus on either outstanding teachers or exceptional individual student-artists, Gavin’s case studies will range from early 1970s performance art groups and late seventies art school bands to feminist collectives and Black art affiliates in the early 1980s.

The historical reflections will explore the place of group activity within the pedagogies and assessment processes of an earlier formation of the UK art school and ask how it might be understood as working the dialectical space between art school dreams and disillusionment characteristic of the post-1960s institution.

How might we learn from such histories in reimagining an art education of the present and for the future?


No Machos or Pop Stars

An annotated audio collage

13 April 2023 9.00am

At the Subcultures International Network Conference in Bristol Gavin will present an annotated audio collage of hitherto unreleased and rare recordings which were unearthed during research for his book No Machos or Pop Stars.

Recordings by bands variously associated with the late 1970s and early ’80s Leeds art-punk music scene will include Gang of Four, Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget), Mekons, Sheeny and the Goys, Three Johns, Another Colour, Shee Hees, Cast Iron Fairies, Smart Cookies, Household Name, Ron Crowcroft and Soft Cell.

Gavin will play selected audio excerpts from these, interspersed with commentary informed by, but also extending beyond, No Machos.


Pedagogie et post-punk

histoires alternatives de l’école d’art

17 March 2023 5.00pm
École des Beaux-Arts de Paris

Gavin will be joined in-person by researcher James Horton and art critic Gallien Déjean at the École de Beaux-Arts in Paris.

They will discuss the role of anecdote in writing the sometimes entwined histories of art education and popular music.


Revisiting Art Education’s Intermedia Dream


15 March 2023 11.00am
Leeds Beckett University INSIDE/OUT series

A public lecture by Gavin as part of Leeds Beckett University’s INSIDE/OUT series

Fluxus artist Dick Higgins wrote in 1966 that “much of the best work being produced today seems to fall between media … We are approaching the dawn of a classless society, to which separation into rigid categories is absolutely irrelevant.” By the following decade, educators in selected UK art schools continued to agree with him. They pushed a progressive pedagogical agenda encouraging students to work across, or between, media disciplines in the belief that the promise of radical aesthetic effect and the refusal of hidebound social divides was to be realised therein.

Focusing upon the historic fate of avant-gardist art education in Leeds, Gavin will reflect upon the challenges to such hopes for intermedia art in the context of changing realities of urban and social life in the 1970s.



In Conversation with Ben Highmore

Popular Music Books in Process Series

20 February 2023 10.00pm
YouTube channel

Join Gavin and writer and Cultural Studies Professor Ben Highmore as they talk online about the emergence of post-punk music from a moment of crisis in the history of UK art education and the broader cultural and political context of No Machos or Pop Stars.

This event will take place at 10pm UK time and is free to access.


No Machos on WFMU

Interview with Evan Davies

11 January 2023 6.00pm
WFMU Jersey City, NY

Gavin will be in conversation about No Machos or Pop Stars with the host of the ‘Evan “Funk” Davies Show’ on WFMU in Jersey City, NY. The show runs from 1pm-3pm EST. UK-based listener’s can tune in online via link above from 6pm.


Talk on Jayne County

New research to be presented at Punk Scholars Network conference

2 December 2022 12.15pm
Middlesex University

Gavin will be delivering a talk about his new research on US proto-punk culture and underground LGBTQ theatre:

“My balls broke”: Jayne County, Gender Fuck and 1970s Rock Theatre

Gavin will explore how County’s bid to make it as a glam and punk rock artist was informed by the riotous examples of queer/trans visibility in an underground theatre scene which spawned many other rock and pop performers including Klaus Nomi, Cherry Vanilla, David Johansen, Patti Smith and Ruby and the Rednecks amongst others.

This is part of a two-day conference organised by the Punk Scholars Network on 2 and 3 December.

FREE live streaming on the day through Book Tickets button below.


Bleak, My Favourite Cliche?

A Conversation on British Post-Punk

28 November 2022 10.30pm
The Graduate Center, CUNY, Intellectual Publics

Join Gavin and Richard T. Rodríguez as they talk online about their recently published books on post-punk music and new approaches to the study of popular culture.

Rodríguez is author of A Kiss Across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk & US Latinidad.

Part of the Intellectual Publics talks series which provides a multi-faceted forum for cutting-edge scholarship across the humanities and social sciences.

Register for webinar below.


Brighton book launch

24 November 2022 7.00pm
The Rose Hill, Brighton

Come join us for the south coast launch of Gavin’s No Machos or Pop Stars.

Gavin will be reading from his book, talking with Christabel Harley (Senior Lecturer, Central Saint Martins) and playing rare and unreleased sounds by bands from the West Yorkshire scene of the 1970s and 1980s.

Entry is free but please book a place through eventbrite below. Books will be available to purchase at a discounted rate.


In conversation with Jon King

10 November 2022 7.00pm
The Barrel Store

Gavin will be talking with Gang of Four’s Jon King about the story of post-punk in Leeds at the Walthamstow Rock ‘N’ Roll Book Club. The event will be held at The Barrel Store, Wildcard Brewery, Shernhall Street, London, E17 9HQ


In conversation with Victoria Horne

Talk and tunes in Newcastle

8 November 2022 5.00pm
The Carriage, Jesmond

Please come along to a public conversation about No Machos or Pop Stars between Gavin and art historian Dr Victoria Horne. Expect to hear rare and previously unreleased tunes and purchase the book at a discounted rate.

The event is free and there is no need to book.

Details of venue and location in link above.


Leeds book launch

28 October 2022 5.00pm
School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds

The launch event for Gavin’s No Machos or Pop Stars will include a wine reception alongside a preview of Becoming The Ouroboros, a specially curated exhibition of art by post-punk musicians including Jacqui Callis, John Diamond, Jacky Fleming, Tom Greenhalgh, John Hyatt, Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Jane Ralley, Mark White and Andy Wood. Copies of Gavin’s book will be available to purchase at a discounted rate. Following this, and for those lucky enough to have bought a ticket already (it’s sold out!), there is an associated gig at the Brudenell Social Club.


In conversation with Siona Wilson

18 October 2022 6.45pm

The Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at New York University will be hosting Gavin in a conversation with Siona Wilson whose book Art Labor, Sex Politics is a study of feminism and performance art in 1970s Britain. The event is in Room 106, 244 Greene Street between Washington Place and Waverly Place. Entry is free, there will be refreshments and all are welcome. NB There are some Covid restrictions so please DM organisers via their instagram. Link below.