The artists Sardine and Tobleroni have painted 77 paintings of punk rock musicians, and tonight was the opening night at The Merchant's Hall, a pop-up gallery at 46 Essex Road in Islington (open 12-6 each day).I think I expected something quite small, but the gallery is huge, battered and cavernous, and was full of people who had obviously made a huge effort to look good, and other people photographing and filming them.
At one point I came face to face with Johnny Rotten, or it could have been his twin brother. Actually, there was quite a buzz in the air, helped by the fact that the wonderful Don Letts was DJ for the night. I was desperate to dance as he spun all the best of late 70s reggae, Toots and the Maytals and lots of other good stuff that I recognised but couldn't name. My toes were twitching but the cool crowd locked my knees with their 1977 stares.
Gaye Advert was there and we had a chat; she's an artist herself as well as featuring in one of the paintings and she recommended another exhibition which I want to go and see (Andreas von Chrzanowski at the Case Gallery in Curtain Road) and Poly Styrene came up to talk to her. She asked me how the book was doing and I told her that I am talking to someone about bringing out a paperback with some more interviews and asked if she would like to be interviewed and she said yes, so that is good news. Both women are very friendly and don't have the 'I'm famous, don't touch me' attitude that the people who aren't famous have.
I have the right to look for a publisher now for the paperback version; I want to try to interview the Au Pairs and Delta 5 as well as the Marine Girls and Shanne from the Nips, and Kate Korris. I loved doing the interviews for the hardback, it was easily the best part of it all and it would be great to carry on.
Anyway- the paintings. The best ones were The Nipple Erectors (they were selling cocktails of that name!) with a very funny rendition of Shane McGowan with Shanne standing behind him; and one of John Cooper Clarke standing next to a giant budgie exactly the same size as him. The budgie looks affronted, and John Cooper Clarke cowers in fear beside it.
Poly was doing a talk later to introduce a film of X-Ray Spex at the Roundhouse in 2008 but I had to leave to give Whippersnapper his insulin. It was an unexpectedly lively evening, full of what I took to be punk rockers' offspring selling programmes and things like that. There were some very well dressed people (see the shoes above) and I wished I'd got into my finery. I recognised loads of people but wasn't sure why, whether it was because I knew them from back then, or because they were (anti)stars of punktimes.
It was nice to be among people my age who could have given some flashy teenage snappy dressers a run for their money: all is not lost, I thought, until I realised how dowdy I looked in comparison. The hiking boots were a mistake, perhaps!
The exhibition was organised by WW Gallery www.wilsonwilliamsgallery.com, and there are screenings until the end of March. Watch out in particular for She's a Punk Rocker UK, by Zillah Minx, on Thursday 4th March at 6.45.