London calling for Jones' Clash show

Charlotte Cripps@charcripps
Friday 27 February 2009 01:00

Mick Jones, guitarist from The Clash, is standing in his lock-up in north Acton. He is sifting through and boxing up his collection of rock paraphernalia, including stained Clash clothing, and the famous pink Clash flight-cases, to be exhibited in Chelsea in March. It is his alternative to the upcoming "British Music Experience" opening at the O2 next month, and the feeling couldn't be less corporate.

The tall room is smoky because there was a fire nearby. The amount of stuff in this room is overwhelming. Among the hundreds of old books, videos and comics which document his life, times, and influences, is a Yves Saint Laurent shirt worn on stage, with "Rebel Wessex" printed on the front.

The shelves are jam-packed with hundreds of videos of TV series, books including Treasure Island, Marvel comics and old games, including a 1950s fruit machine.

Up in the attic there are Kate Moss's Wellington boots from Glastonbury and a naval painting of the Russo-Japanese war. In the red-velvet-wallpapered studio downstairs are original Clash and Sex Pistols posters. There are also instruments, records, amplifiers and recording gear, boxes of correspondence, photographs and song lyrics.

Jones refers to these personal items as "relics of popular culture" that have influenced him and his music over the years – not just here and next door in his recording studio – but at home in Notting Hill Gate, where he dedicates a whole room to his ever-growing collection. All of it is to be recreated as realistically as possible in the gallery space.

Jones, who is wearing a brown suit, with his hands curled together, describes the collection as a "living work of art". "We are continually in a space that is inspirational. As you look around everything that you pick up is interesting."

He explains that, for him, the collection is not emotional baggage, but proof that he is alive. "The stuff is a reflection of me. It reminds me of who I am. It's a personal history with a social and cultural history running alongside it." The idea to exhibit his collection came to him about three years ago. He always dreamt of opening a rock'n'roll library, and having items properly on loan.

"This exhibition is a stream of consciousness, rather than lateral," he says.

The Rock & Roll Public Library runs from 18 March to 18 April (

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