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Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ cover reworked for climate change mural in Manchester

Peter Saville's legendary 1979 cover has been reinterpreted by Music Declares Emergency

By Joe Goggins

The Unknown Pleasures mural in Manchester
The mural in Withington, Manchester. Photo: Press

The iconic cover art for Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ has been adapted as a mural to draw attention to the climate crisis.

Peter Saville’s legendary artwork, which depicts radio waves from a pulsar on a black background, has appeared on the side of a building in Withington, South Manchester, as part of the No Music on a Dead Planet campaign by the Music Declares Emergency group.

The mural depicts the famous radio waves as dead, to highlight the gravity of global warming ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow next month, at which world leaders will meet to discuss the situation.

Music Declares Emergency are calling for “urgent action on climate”, with the Withington work symbolising “the eternal silence of a dead planet”. The artwork is located close to other murals depicting Saville himself and the footballer Marcus Rashford, the latter of which became an impromptu anti-racism shrine after Rashford was among a number of England players to be targeted by online abuse in the aftermath of England’s Euro 2020 final loss in July.

The Music Declares Emergency colllective launched a range of t-shirts for the cause earlier this year, designed by climate-conscious artists like Thom Yorke and backed by the likes of Billie Eilish and Foals. Last month, Foals keyboardist Edwin Congreave quit the group, citing the carbon footprint of touring as one reason behind the decision.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s ‘What Planet Are We On?’ podcast, Congreave described the moment he realised the severity off the climate crisis as “an avalanche of truth descending on my head”.

He called on bands to reconsider long-haul touring, saying “it wouldn’t affect our business particularly, but it would mean that we are not freighting two tonnes of gear halfway across the world and back. So, for me, that seems like quite a clear case of something we shouldn’t do.”

Joy Division’s own Peter Hook weighed in on the issue earlier this year, when the rework of Saville’s cover was featured on a Music Declares Emergency t-shirt. “The truth of the matter is that the world is terrible trouble now,” he told NME, “and if we don’t look to address the climate emergency facing the planet immediately then ourselves and all future generations face tremendous problems.”