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In a feature in The Guardian‘s music section, published earlier this month (4 November 2016), Steve Von Till of the Oakland metal band Neurosis select tracks from the 1980s British anarcho-punk scene and concludes that: ‘Crass were the mother of all bands’.

Von Till selects Discharge (Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing); Subhumans (From the Cradle to the Grave); Rudimentary Peni (When You Are a Martian Church); Crass (Mother Earth) and Chumbawamba (Stagnation/Liberation).
 
Neurosis - Crass were the mother of all punk bands - The Guardian

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Penny Rimbaud reflects on the experience of his recent heart attack in a recent edition of BBC Radio 4’s Short Cuts (7 November 2016), which is available (in the UK) to stream and download through the BBC iPlayer. Host Josie Long also quotes from the lyrics of her favourite Crass song Big A, Little A.

Rimbaud’s appearance on the show is also available (as a ‘Radio Four in four’ clip) on the BBC Programmes‘ site.

Penny Rimbaud - Short Cuts

Why I found my heart attack a beautiful experience

Penny Rimbaud is a writer, philosopher and musician. He recently had a heart attack at Rochdale train station. He explains how confronting death was profoundly beautiful and liberating.

First broadcast on Short Cuts, 7 November 2016.

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Daily Mirror - 10 November 2016

THE DAY OF DONALD Trump’s election as US president, Gee Vaucher’s acclaimed 1990 gouache on card Oh, America (originally commissioned for the cover of the 1989 Tackhead album Friendly as a Hand Grenade) became something of an (almost wholly unattributed) internet meme, shared numerous times on the social web, as people responded to the news of Trump’s victory at the polls.

In the UK, Oh, America has been appropriated as the front page illustration for the Daily Mirror‘s post-mortem on the election – it’s now confirmed that the Mirror used this image with the knowledge and permission of Vaucher, and that her artistry is credited on the front page of the print edition of the paper, and inside.


UPDATE: 12 November 2016:

The Mirror has now published a piece describing the selection process around Gee Vaucher’s artwork:

Gee Vaucher - The Mirror

Gee Vaucher’s artwork ‘Oh America’ and the story behind the Daily Mirror’s historic US election front page

IN THE INEVITABLE avalanche of social media fallout that followed Donald Trump’s astonishing victory, one image struck the mind more forcefully than others.

The words ‘Donald Trump elected President’ are arguably all that’s required to convey the full impact of the 2016 US election result.

But in today’s digital world, where news travels as fast as a tweet or email, national newspapers face the unenviable task of summing up the story in a few words and a memorable image, but better than has already been done online – and hopefully better than its competitors.

That’s when an inspired editorial decision is required.

“We knew we wanted to create an iconic front page to mark Trump’s amazing and historic victory, so we were all keeping an eye out for something striking,” said The Mirror‘s Editor-in-Chief, Lloyd Embley.

“It was morning editorial conference and our picture editor, Michael Rye, was showing the senior team a selection of images relating to the US election.”

“And suddenly – bang! There it was. It was perfect.”

The image in question came from the inevitable avalanche of social media memes that followed the election result.

The next task was to find out where the image originated, who owned the copyright, and whether permission for its use was available.

Fortunately, not only did the image prove to be a cult artwork, but the British artist behind it, Gee Vaucher, is about to enjoy her first major retrospective exhibition.

“Michael tracked down Gee and she kindly gave us permission to use it,” says Embley.

“Every day is a special day editing the Daily Mirror but seeing that front page on the news stand will live long in my memory.”

Oh, America

The image is titled ‘Oh America’ and was created in 1989.

When The Mirror asked Gee for a comment to accompany our article she offered the following words.

‘Give us justice which is not the searing spite of revenge, peace which is not the product of war nor dependent upon it. Give us freedom where now there is only servitude.’

The words are by British punk poet-philosopher Penny Rimbaud, Vaucher’s lifelong creative partner, and have previously been superimposed over a version of the image.

The artwork – gouache on card – has also previously been used as the cover of an album by hip-hop group Tackhead on 1989’s Friendly as a Hand Grenade.

WHO IS GEE VAUCHER?

The Dagenham-born artist is a pioneering figure in the DIY and protest art scenes and has been working for more than 40 years.

She first rose to prominence in anarcho-punk band Crass in the late ’70s, who performed under minimal lighting in front of video collage backdrops, often created by Vaucher.

Born in 1945, Vaucher spent her formative years working as a political illustrator for publications including The New York Times and New York Magazine.

Her work straddles the gap between the absurd and the harrowing, focusing on political, personal, environmental and humanitarian messages. Her works are often collage or photomontage.

Throughout her career, she has produced books and ‘zines, allowing her the control to produce and disseminate work through her own channels and on her own terms. Her most recent work, A Week of Knots, was published through Vaucher’s own Exitstencil Press.

The radical counter-cultural touchstone, who designed the sleeve for The Charlatans album Who We Touch among others, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex in 2016.

WHERE CAN I SEE THE ACTUAL ARTWORK?

‘Oh America’ features in Introspective, the first major British show of Vaucher’s work, which takes place at Firstsite, Colchester, from November 12 2016 – February 19 2017.

You can see more details about the exhibition here.

Gavin Alley. 2016. Gee Vaucher’s artwork ‘Oh America’ and the story behind the Daily Mirror’s historic US election front page, Daily Mirror, 10 November. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gee-vauchers-artwork-oh-america-9231864.

 

oh-america_1990_gouache-on-card

Gee Vaucher, Oh, America, 1990.

Gee Vaucher’s Introspective exhibition opens at the Firstsite gallery, Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester CO1 1JH on Friday (11 November 2016).


UPDATE: 12 November 2016: Interestingly, in the copy of The Mirror front page Tweeted in the Crass and Southern Records accounts (presumably from the first edition London copies printed early on 10 November), the image does not include a credit to Vaucher’s in the top-left hand of the image (as seen in the later editions, including the one above).

 

Below is a blow-up of the additional small credit on page 13 of the print edition of The Mirror:
 
Gee Vaucher - Oh, America credit - The Mirrror

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Little Annie - AnOther magazine
Photo: Jessie John Jenkins

In an excellent interview with AnOther magazine, Little Annie (formerly Annie Anxiety) discusses her life, work and art as well as “Beyoncé, Malcom X and contemporary social inequality”.

Of her time living at Dial House and recording for Crass Records, she recalls:

It was exhilarating and it felt like a honest place to be. It aligned with everything I already knew I believed in. You know what? When me and Penny Rimbaud were making Barbed Wire Halo (1981), we thought that we were making a disco record! Honestly, I know it might not sound like that but we loved listening to disco together!

Reba Maybury. 2016. ‘Little Annie: Avant-Garde Songstress’, AnOther, 9 June. http://www.anothermag.com/design-living/8759/little-annie-avant-garde-songstress

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The latest edition of The Wire magazine (No. 388, June 2016) includes an illustrated eight-page ‘primer’ feature on anarcho-punk, written by Louis Pattison and illustrated by Savage Pencil. The intro declares:

In the late 1970s, the righteous racket and tireless political activism of Crass helped spark the ideologies and DIY networks that became anarcho-punk. Louis Pattison traces the spread of a grassroots movement that spawned Poison Girls, Flux of Pink Indians, Conflict and legions of overlooked footsoldiers of punk. Illustration by Savage Pencil

Louis Pattison and Savage Pencil. 2016. ‘The Primer: Anarcho-Punk’, The Wire, No 388, June, pp. 30-37.

The Wire - The Primer - Anarcho-punk

The Wire - No 388 - June 2016

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Steve Ignorant - The Guardian - 7 May 2016

Steve Ignorant features in today’s (7 May 2016) Guardian‘s magazine ‘Never mind the bus pass‘ retrospective; which sees six punk activists ‘look back at the wildest days of their lives’.

Steve Ignorant, 58
Then: lead singer, Crass
Now: lifeboatman

Punk had a purpose. Every gig would benefit something: a rape crisis centre, a donkey sanctuary, an old people’s home. It was positive. We wanted a nice world to live in. Only, this time, we weren’t asking – we were telling.

From 1977 to 1984, I was the lead vocalist for Crass. We toured the UK, playing gigs wherever and whenever we could. When Crass finished, I continued to perform and record with Conflict and later formed the bands Schwartzeneggar and Stratford Mercenaries.

In 2007, I moved to Norfolk with the intention of living quietly by the coast. I was going to sweep up leaves and all that sort of stuff – but it wasn’t to be. The year I moved, I got an offer to do two nights at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. With every gig I do, I like to donate to a cause. I knew the independent lifeboat service in Sea Palling is always desperate for funds, so I thought that was ideal: I could see where the money actually goes. They got about £1000 and bought new life jackets that went on to save people’s lives.

The crew took me out on the boat, dressed me up in a drysuit, threw me overboard and picked me up, then asked, “So, what about joining?”

At first, I was very reluctant – I worried about the commitment and imagined that I would have to go on parade. The idea of some bloke telling me off for not shaving properly went totally against my principles. But they were all scruffier than me. Now I’m a full-time member.

Being part of the crew is similar to being in a band. You’re full of adrenaline when you’re on stage, but the worst thing that can happen is that you forget the words or the lead guitarist plays a bum note. It’s not the same adrenaline when you’re suddenly out at sea and pulling someone from the water. It affects different people in different ways. It doesn’t hit me at first, but about an hour later, it’s as if I’ve taken amphetamines. I can’t shut up about it.

Also included in the feature are: Ausaf Abbas, Lesley Woods, Terry Chimes, David O’Brien and Jordan.

Nige Tassell. 2016. ‘”Never Mind the Bus Pass”: punks look back at their wildest days’, The Guardian, 7 May 2016. http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/may/07/never-mind-bus-pass-punks-look-back-wildest-days

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The Louder Than War site has published (30 August 2015), an interview with Steve Ignorant (carried out at by Phil Newall the Rebellion festival) in which he discusses his Top 10 albums – including the soundtrack for West Side Story and Joni Mitchell’s Hejira.

Steve Ignorant - top 10 albums

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