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
I don’t advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hairs are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos, and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight.
Danny, Withnail & I
Even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day, and for once I am inclined to believe Withnail is right… we are indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell. What we need is harmony… fresh air and stuff like that…
Marwood, Withnail & I