Old masters of rave invited to Sanctuary exhibition at Milton Keynes Gallery

A new exhibition celebrating The Sanctuary, Britain’s iconic lost rave venue is coming to The Project Space at MK Gallery.

How did an unsuspecting Milton Keynes warehouse become one of the UK’s largest and most beloved rave venues?

Sanctuary: The Unlikely Home of British Rave will tell the story of the infamous all-night club that operated in the city from 1991-2004, drawing an estimated three quarters of a million ravers from across the country.

The exhibition seeks to shine new light on the pioneering nightlife history of the city – including the MK locals behind Sunrise, the acid house promoters known for a string of underground raves in the late 1980s. Opening on the 4 December 2021 (until 23 January 2022) will also mark 30 years to the week since the building in Denbigh North was first chosen by the late Murray2 of 5 Beetson as the venue of the historic Dreamscape 1 rave, before opening officially as a club the following year.

Hosting iconic nights including Helter Skelter, Fantazia, Jungle Fever, Hardcore Heaven, and Slammin Vinyl, as well as artists like The Prodigy, The Sanctuary symbolises a critical moment in the pivot from illegal to licensed raves, as well as the development of genres such as Happy Hardcore and Drum & Bass. Once accommodating audiences of up to 9000, the leisure complex was demolished in 2004. An IKEA now stands in its place.

The exhibition is an archive project that will display original ephemera, flyers, merchandise, artefacts, footage and more, is curated by Emma Hope Allwood, a writer and former Dazed editor who grew up around Milton Keynes. Allwood said: ‘It wasn’t until I became a journalist and came across the flyer for Dreamscape 1 that I learned of The Sanctuary. This project is about doing justice to the youth culture history of MK – a place which is too often unfairly maligned as a cultural void.’

Former ravers with any objects to be considered for the exhibition are invited to either email details to submissions@sanctuarymk.co.uk or bring their ephemera to MK Gallery on Saturday 13 November, 2pm – 5pm, where it will be scanned and preserved within the virtual archives of the Museum of Youth Culture. From photographs to flyers, VHS tapes to t-shirts, Milton Keynes 90s rave and nightlife keepsakes, nothing will be insignificant. This will be followed by a free screening of Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller’s 2018 exploration of acid house, Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 in the Gallery’s Sky Room cinema at 5pm.

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