It was the decade of big shoulder pads, big hair and big personalities. It was the decade of huge contrasts. During the 1980s there was greed and selfishness and a widening gap between the rich and poor, but it was also a time when people took action to look after the planet and each other. Natural and man-made disasters and rising crime rates made the world feel more uncontrollable and unpredictable than ever before. Nuclear war seemed inevitable as the Cold War kept East and West teetering on the brink of conflict.
The 1980s were a decade of people power and individuality. People power brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989, reuniting a divided Germany. International protests and campaigns led to the eventual release of anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela in 1990. People had more and more freedom to say who they were, what they liked and didn’t like, how they wanted to dress and what they enjoyed.
This year’s major exhibition at Jersey Museum entitled ‘Bergerac’s Island – Jersey in the 1980s’ – looks at how national and international events affected the lives ordinary people in the Island. The Great Storm, the Falklands War, the Newall murders, the Queen’s Valley debate, Jambo, The Island Games, the Battle of Flowers, labour strikes, the decline in tourism and rise of the finance industry have all left an indelible mark on our lives today. Television, films, music, gay culture and what it was like to be a child will all be explored in this colourful and thought-provoking exhibition. And in true 1980s style it culminates with an opportunity to go clubbing, with a disco dance floor and the best – and worst – of 1980s music!
Louise Downie, Community Learning Director for Jersey Heritage and curator of the exhibition said, ‘This exhibition has everything. We explore the key people, stories and events from what was a momentous decade globally for our political, social, cultural and economic thinking. We are enormously grateful to the hundreds of Islanders who have donated precious items and shared with us their memories of what it was like to live here during that time.’
The exhibition is sponsored by commercial radio station Channel 103. Station Director Mike Huston said, ‘Channel 103 is one of the UK’s most successful radio stations and has been at the centre of Island life for 25 years. As a broadcaster we reflect the social and cultural environment through the music we play. We first broadcast at the tail end of the decade and although a great deal has changed, the 80s obviously influenced us hugely and it is a pleasure to support this exhibition.’
As part of the exhibition visitors will have an opportunity to revel in a bit of 80s nostalgia at Retro Game Days with such memorable games as Space Invaders, Operation and Guess Who?
The popular BBC television series that gives its name to the exhibition is also celebrated, with lead actor John Nettles introducing visitors to some of the key stories from that decade through audio visual presentations, and his famous Triumph Roadster will also be on show.
Bergerac’s Island – Jersey in the 1980s opens to the public on April 1st, marking the start of the Jersey Heritage 2017 season.