Another early work from the Project Mogwai series, dating back to 2008. I just missed out on the full explosion of punk, and only caught the exhausted aftermath, with Sid Vicious paraded as cartoon anti-hero and the street tribes mutating into mods, goths and metalheads. England was dreaming again, having heard the shrill alarm call of punk, only to roll over to the the other side of its foetid bed. This drawing/painting was done with brush and india ink and intended to look like something a teenage obsessive would have done in their bedroom in 1977, which was easy to do as I am obsessive by nature and no matter how old I get the teenage part of me still seems to win through, and as long as that continues then it could be argued that ‘punk’s not dead’ after all.
Mogwai – punk:rock
These are the pencils for a new painting. I see foxes most morning on my walk to the bus stop. As dawn breaks, they come scuttling down the lane and disappear into the remnants of woodland. In those moments, I feel like Ted Hughes. I hope to have this finished by Christmas, but I’ve got a landscape to complete first. If I get both finished before the end of the year, that will be an achievement.
This was the third painting in the Project Mogwai series, completed in October 2008. Peter Sutcliffe, ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’, cast a long dark shadow over my childhood, one that lingers to this day. He committed his first murder when I was seven, and was eventually caught when I was twelve years old. It’s hard to convey what it was like growing up in Leeds when all of that was going on, because we still had the heatwave of ’76, Tom Baker as the best Dr Who, Tiswas, Grange Hill, the Silver Jubilee, all of that, but hanging over it all was this rumbling thunderhead of dread and horror that would every few months or so make its presence felt. When he was eventually caught there was widespread disbelief that this “monster” everyone had grown to fear turned out to be a weedy little bloke from Bradford who looked like OddBod Junior from Carry On Screaming. It was inevitable that I would one day have to paint him, probably as some sort of fumbling attempt at exorcism.
Mogwai – You Don’t Know Jesus
This was the second painting in the Project Mogwai series, completed in October 2008. Those paying close attention will recognise a repeat of the graffitied face from ‘Stop Coming To My House‘. The inspiration for this image came from Gordon Burn’s Fullalove, especially the epigram he uses to set the tone of the novel:
Until the day when, your endurance gone,
in this world for you without arms,
you catch up in yours the first mangy cur you meet,
carry it the time needed for it to love you,
and you it, then throw it away
Samuel Beckett, Molloy
Mogwai – Like Herod
Following the “success” of this, my first proper painting, in the late summer of 2008, I decided to embark on a full series of paintings inspired by the songs of Mogwai. This lasted on and off for the next couple of years, and during that time I learnt a lot, to the extent that I became quite dismissive of early “naive” efforts such as this. Only now can I look back with affection at the way I threw myself into this, working purely on instinct and with barely a clue as to what I was doing. Increasingly these days I find myself trying to get back to that state of mind.
Mogwai – Mogwai Fear Satan
Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.
D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover