The ashy remains of £5m of torched punk memorabilia are going on display

“This expensive pile of ash commemorates the demise of punk but also society as we know it” says Joe Corré of the artwork

Back in November 2016, on the date that marked the 40 years since the release of the Sex Pistols’ seminal punk record “Anarchy in the UK”, Joe Corré torched £5 million worth of punk memorabilia on a boat on the Thames. It was, he announced, in protest of the music and subculture itself becoming little more than a ‘marketing tool’ in recent years, and that by burning it off, he was double-hijacking punk back, and killing it off as an act of kindness.

Now, two years on, the pile of ash that was left after the fire is set to go on display at Mayfair’s Lazinc Gallery. The artwork, entitled ‘Ash From Chaos’ is another step towards reclaiming punk music according to Corré, whose mother is Vivienne Westwood and father was Malcolm McLaren – the Sex Pistols’ former manager. “This expensive pile of ash commemorates the demise of punk but also society as we know it,” he said. “Punk was hijacked by corporations and the Establishment, it’s potency rendered meaningless.” 

‘Ash From Chaos’ is likely to be met with controversy: there were plenty of people in opposition to the initial fire itself, with the likes of NME calling the move “selfish, pointless, and fucking sad.” However, Corré's actions have a worthwhile outcome, with proceeds from the sale of the artwork set to be donated to Humanade, the charity he founded in 2008.  

From April 20, visitors will be able to observe the artwork, with items that were once OG bondage gear, Johnny Rotten’s iconic tartan trousers, and a tiny Swastika-sporting Sid Vicious doll among the ashy remains. Accompanying the ash will be a replica of the death mask that sat atop Malcolm McLaren's coffin, as created by sculptor Nick Reynolds. ‘Ash From Chaos’ will also feature as part of the Burn Punk London documentary, which is set for release later this year. All that remains to be seen is just how much a pile of ash will sell for. Watch this space.

‘Ash From Chaos’ will be on display at the Lazinc Gallery from April 20 to April 28.