Musical memories recalled in collection of Brisbane band posters

State Library of Queensland exhibition explores the underground music scene of the 1970s and ’80s.

Rare homemade music posters and handbills created by Brisbane’s youth culture in the late 1970s and ’80s are on display at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane. 

The Cut Copy: Brisbane music posters 1977-87 exhibition takes you back to a time when restrictions were placed on band activity, live music venues were almost non-existent, money was scarce and emerging musicians self-promoted their talents through DIY graphic design.

Lead Collection Building and Exhibition Co-Curator Robyn Hamilton said the collection of 350 music posters and handbills represent the music scene of that decade relating to venues, gigs, bands, benefit dances and various causes supported by youth rebellion.

“This was a world before the internet,” Ms Hamilton said.

“If you wanted to tell people that you had a gig on Friday night you got together with your mates around the kitchen table and made posters with whatever you had on hand. 

“Some of the posters were done by members of the bands but some were done by friends of bands who were studying art or design where you can see they were practising what later became their profession.”

Ms Hamilton described the posters to be limited edition as some were individualised from hand-cut stencils, line drawing, hand lettering and screen printing. 

“It’s a celebration of the resourcefulness and creativity of young people from that time,” Ms Hamilton said. 

“The State Government was particularly suspicious of the activities of creative young people and tended to keep a lid on them, so live music was quite a difficult thing to achieve.

“It was a really different time in Queensland’s history and the posters express all of that.”

Bands featured in the exhibition’s posters and handbills include The Saints, The Riptides, The Go-Betweens, The Leftovers, The Upsets, Razar and The Black Assassins.

The exhibition is open until 8 May 2021.

Book your free entry ticket online.