Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll + Q&A with Jemima Dury

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, dir: Mat Whitecross (2010) Still from film

Ian Dury and Terry Day in the canteen at Walthamstow School of Art, c.1962.


Our second event features the BAFTA nominated Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll: A biography of Ian Dury, who himself was a Walthamstow School of Art Alumni.

Stricken with polio at a young age, he defied expectations by becoming one of the founders of the punk-rock scene in Britain in the 1970s. Dury is said to have found his spiritual home at Walthamstow under the tutelage of Sir Peter Blake who taught at the school between 1961 and 1964. Dury and Blake formed a life-long friendship, collaborating at several points in their careers.

In 1979 Blake designed the promotional poster for the Ian Dury (and the Blockheads) single ‘Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3’ and in 1984 Dury immortalised Blake in The Blockheads song ‘Peter the Painter’. Blake said of his time at Walthamstow School of Art: “If I did anything of value as a teacher, it was opening a door to something”.

In addition to the screening we will be joined by Ian’s daughter Jemima who will be partaking in a Q&A.

“The production team behind this energetic portrait of Ian Dury (Andy Serkis), the British new wave rock musician, lyricist, actor and punk music hall star who, if he didn’t coin the phrase “sex & drugs & rock & roll”, put it into the language through his 1977 hit song, clearly admire their subject. But they’re determined not to celebrate him in any conventional manner, partly because such a thing would be unfashionable and partly, one assumes, because they feel this would be a betrayal of his anarchic character and art. They’ve also set out to capture impressionistically Dury’s chaotic way of life and his eclectic array of influences.

Their chosen style employs fast cutting, animation, varieties of colour, fantasy, harsh reality, extreme stylisation, clips from newsreels and, a major coup, credit titles designed by the pop artist Peter Blake, who was one of Dury’s teachers at the Royal College of Art in the 1960s.” The Guardian, Jan 2010, Philip French

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Jemima was born in Chiswick in 1969, to her dad Ian Dury and her painter mum, Elisabeth Rathmell. She trained as a dancer at the Arts Educational School and worked with theatre-maker Jan Fabre in Belgium before studying Drama at the University of Kent. She choreographed, acted and dabbled in writing while maintaining a healthy waitressing career in Brighton throughout the noughties. A few years ago she met a lovely chap called Japhy and they had three children. They live together in Hastings where Jemima is working hard re-vamping her Dad’s website and making sure his lyrics are filed in alphabetical order.

Ian Dury was a rock and roll vagabond with the wit and intelligence of Noël Coward and Oscar Wilde. His verbal dexterity as an entertainer and a lyric writer gave the world some of its most famous phrases – ‘sex and drugs and rock and roll’ and ‘reasons to be cheerful’. He was a true Renaissance man – a talented painter, musician and actor who left behind a body of work that continues to amuse, impress and delight to this day.

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