In January 2016 I had an exhibition at the Punctum Gallery in London – the show was called Punk Hip Hop MashUp. In honor of London’s 40th Anniversary of Punk and being back in my home town I decided to do a Punk MashUp. I asked my artist friends from back in those days, who were connected with British music and culture from 1976 to 1982, to reinterpret my photographs. Here are a few of them with their comments about why they chose to work on those particular images:
CHRISTOS TOLERA “My immediate response to this image was the recognition of the similarity between this and Sir John Everett Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ and the ecstasy so closely associated with death. I was inspired to make more of this and at the same time draw attention to the futility of peaceful protest in the times we live in. The man playing air guitar in the original image is re-imagined dying, dropping the white Poppies which had symbolised peace in his hands for us to be reminded that war continues unabated. The title ‘I Feel Ya’ is a play on words referring to the original inspiration whilst at the same time describing both the old and new images.
The artist Christos Tolera was born, lives and works in London. After a short lived pop career as a member of 80’s latin funk jazz outfit Blue Rondo A La Turk he eventually settled into the career of an artist as a painter and occasional actor. He has never quite managed to avoid the spotlight nor does it seem he wants to. www.christostolera.com
SUE TILLEY: “I have always been a huge fan of Boy George and think that his influence on the world and his song writing abilities are very underestimated. I was thrilled to be one of the main characters in his musical ‘Taboo’ which was performed in the West End and on Broadway. I wanted to make the photo painterly so used thick red paint to cover up the background. In the picture I sprayed the gold paint to mimic the drips on Leigh Bowery’s head as George played him in ‘Taboo’. I used the cut up letters to spell out the lyrics of one of my favourite songs and to answer some of the horrible treatment he has received from newspapers. They are also a nod to the punk sensibility of Jamie Reid.”
When Sue Tilley left college she went to sign on and they enlisted her to work in the dole office, finally leaving last year after 37 years. While working there she embraced the London night life scene, working on the door at Taboo and The Wag Club and regularly crawling into work with appalling hangovers. She met Leigh Bowery in a night club who was to become her best friend and a huge influence in her life. After he died in 1993 she wrote his biography which has become a bit of a cult classic. Bowery introduced her to Lucian Freud who painted her 4 times.
HORACE PANTER “Why did you choose this image? Easy … I’m the guy first from the right in the photo!
Horace Panter graduated from Lanchester Polytechnic (Coventry) in 1975 with a BAHons in Fine Art and a basic knowledge of the bass guitar. Joined fellow Coventry alumni Jerry Dammers in The Specials until the bands demise in 1982. Taught art in Coventry from 1998-2008, played bass when The Specials reformed (to the present day). “The band, although an incredible live unit, was fragmented and unhappy at the time the photograph was taken. I’ve tried to accentuate that – seven individuals as opposed to a group.”
KOSMO: I’ve loved both pictures of the twins forever – I think the parka one was in the first issue of The Face wasn’t it? Anyway I think one of the greatest things about British Punk Rock was the Punk/Dread Alliance, both scenes could see kindred spirits in each other and how their enemies were common to both. I always felt that the Two Tone Explosion was a product of this and that it had produced a brand new species. I remember Ranking Roger of The Beat getting up on stage with The Clash and singing “White Riot” – he was so into it- afterwards he told me “I’d always wanted to do that song on stage”. I’ve just tried to capture some of that lightning.”
The former Londoner turned New Yorker, Kosmo Vinyl, is perhaps best known for his work with Ian Dury & The Blockheads and The Clash. Starting out at Stiff Records in 1976, he became a key figure in the London-based music scene. These days Kosmo’s artistic blow-by-blow account of his existence as a long distance fan of West Ham United soccer team is documented in the blog “Is Saitch Yer Daddy,” The title comes from some cryptic East London graffiti from his youth. “You could see it just past Bromley By Bow station, when taking the District Line Underground train east, en route to Upton Park, home of The Hammers.”
MARCO : “I choose Joe Strummer because is a wonderful singer with guts and brain. When I was doing the painting of the photo I put a union jack ripped, because Joe represent his country like no one and at the same time was critic towards it, so he destroy what is wack in England and at the same time put the english music to a huge level, the one that this country deserved for all the incredible tracks it brought to the world, cause the crown sucks, but his people kill !!!! It’s the only country that can step against the huge US music machine, like the Beatles or the Stones they fuckin did it. ” This is England!!”I also wrote some of my favorite title of the band, like a medley written all around him, cause all this came out of this man. I never been a fan in my life, but I’m a big time Clash supporter!!! Revolution Rock!!!”
I was a graffiti vandal, I did architecture studies, I’m now making films, and still keep on writing graffiti ( Not street art), and sometimes I even tattoo…. Art is the expression of emotion, and if people can feel it, then it is. My name is Marc-Aurèle Vecchione, people call me Marco, I write Orel -you choose!!
PAM HOGG ” Knowing I was good friends with Siouxee, Janette suggested i worked on her image, so of course it was a great choice for me, I loved the photo. I’ve been drawing since I was able to hold a pencil, it seemed the most natural thing to do, and I’ve been doing it all my life.”
IAN WRIGHT “ONETWOTHREEFOUR, innit?”
I’m interested in what could be. I especially enjoy making portraits and I’m excited by the process of collaboration. I love conversation. I’m obsessed by music. I’m looking forward to what happens next.” Ian Wright is an artist, he worked for The Face & NME back in the day. He has also been supplying me with the best compilation mix tapes, CD’s and MP3’s since 1979.
AND MORE great pieces were created by: Lorraine Kinman (Costume Designer,worked with Vivien Westwood and Boy), Ian’Swifty’ (Graphic Designer, Straight No Chaser, Talkin’ Loud), Hattie Stewart (Illustrator), Dan Holiday (Artist), Chris Sullivan (Journalist, DJ, artist, Blue Rondo A La Turk, the Wag), Princess Julia (Writer, painter, ID Magazine Blitz, PX). Kash (Graffiti artist and painter). Soon to be seen on my website …