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I’d been asked to produce some cover art for a label I work with called Skanky Panky Records. The Ravers e.p. would feature a rave cyborg, and since their other releases featured a super colourful female protagonist, that would also be part of the brief. I came up with a piece called ‘Future Synth’, a play on the concept of synthesis in music, and her synthetic humanoid look.

It was January, and Posca UK were launching an artist of the year competition. Each month a prompt would be given for artists to use to produce a piece of work, where the best pieces were shortlisted by Posca, with a public vote to decide the winner.

The first prompt was ‘future’, and I was half way through the piece you can see to the left, so it kind of felt like fate and I entered the the competition.

After being shortlisted i took 26% of the votes, the January title, and am now through to the finals later in the year! Have to say a massive thank you to everyone who took the time to vote, there were some great entries! It was completely unexpected though and really gave me a boost heading into the new year, but it didn’t end there…

I received a call from Brink Contemporary Arts about the possibility of painting this piece on a 49 metre square wall in the heart of Leamington as part of the local mural festival. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to scale up my work, so this was a no brainer, it would be my biggest piece. I’ve been playing a lot recently with cyborg characters and 3D used as tattoos, engines, extensions of hair or clothing, so planned to kind of freestyle some letters as part of her cybernetic body. I stretched her face to fill the wall a little bit and the positioning led to some happy accidents. I love the way the antennae sticks out of her head, and the beauty spot that was a massive 2″ thick metal bar i had to grind off the wall!

The Mural made the front page of the local newspaper and I felt pretty happy with how this story had already played out! I felt I’d nailed the painting and pushed way beyond anything I’d attempted to date. At this point I was tagged in a public vote for the best mural in the world for March 2021 by Street Art Cities.

I thought nothing of it at the time, pics get shared about a lot on the net and it was nice people were taking an interest, but with artists like Stom500, Dragon76 and Pichiavo in the line-up, I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park! I felt really humbled to be on a list with some of these people, my first wall at this scale no less. Then I found out I’d made a 25 strong shortlist…

Next came the call for the top 10… There was no way I’d have made it that far I told myself, and as the numbers were slowly posted out I became more sure of that fact, the quality of the work involved was truly world class, but I came 3rd! There’s a decent amount of people engaged in their site, so it felt like a fair enough sample of people to make it interesting. I’m not shy about my ambition to travel the world painting huge walls, so this felt like a great stepping stone towards that goal. Big love and a huge thank you to everyone who’s shared this Journey with me. I’ve poured everything into my work this last few years and it’s nice to get some recognition, but the real work is just beginning.

Void One_

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I was always into artwork, but for a long time I worked in the events industry, specifically sound engineering, producing music, and ran a few labels along the way. One of those imprints was Beta Test Records.

Back in 2013 I was working closely with the now reformed UK Glitch Hop [UKGH] crew presenting regular radio podcasts and running awards for the wider Glitch Hop community. I got involved through running a Midlands based electronic label called Beta Birmingham.

Beta Birmingham had always been seen as a local thing, a platform for what were essentially my mates to promote their productions. It was also great for me as it forced me into working to self imposed deadlines, as I’d always struggled to finish my work. I produced all the branding and artwork for the releases, so it kept me up to date with my Photoshop skills. With 5 solid releases under it’s belt and with the new found links that had been forged through UKGH, I decided I wanted to fulfill a bucket list wish and get a vinyl printed.

The record would feature 8 tracks of UK based hip hop inspired electronica, with scratch samples from each of the tracks so you could juggle the tunes live. A battle wax road tested by 4 X DMC Champion Mr Switch, presented in a 300 copy limited edition 180g black vinyl with high gloss full colour artwork that I would produce alongside one of the tracks.

“Covering a spectrum of impeccably detailed Hip Hop inspired electronics, Chemical Coercion will satisfy the most hardened veteran future b-boys and 21st century turntable technicians.”

Beta Test Records – Chemical Coercion Blurb

One evening I received an email from the British Library Sound and Moving Image Catalogue requesting 2 physical copies of the release for submission to the catalogue. I thought nothing much of it. I tried a few times to contact the library to confirm they had received the vinyl over the years, as I’d heard nothing after the email, but it wasn’t until 7 years later that my interest was peaked again.

I decided one day to call them directly, were I was reminded of the online catalogue link. I’d checked this page a good few times, but this time it was actually there!

I think there’s something innate about wanting to leave a mark after your gone, so it’s pretty incredible to know my work is now part of the national archive. I haven’t even considered making music for over 5 years since getting the paint bug back, so this felt like a really nice way to underscore what was a huge part of my life for many years. Big love to everyone who supported the release, it’s still available on vinyl via the Beta Test Bandcamp below:

Void One_

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“Apathy is compliance, acceptance of the status quo, and that’s intolerable.”

They said it was a lack of information that was holding people back before the Internet, but there’s an apparent historical amnesia, or worse ignorance at the moment. It was only 60 years ago that segregation existed in the states and they were lynching black people. It was only 60 years ago that the tories ran their infamous ‘nigger for a neighbour’ campaign. It’s naive to expect we’ve moved on so much in such a short space of time. 

Events across the pond are rightly being condemned as police attempt to quell rioting caused by police brutality with ever more alarming acts of brutality. We think of the civil rights movement as a thing of the past. ‘I have a dream’, but that dream now only extends as far as banal memes to demonstrate how woke you are. Apathy is compliance, acceptance of the status quo, and that’s intolerable. Until there is real justice, there can be no peace. 

Black lives matter, because until black lives matter, none of our lives matter either. The struggle for equality binds us, it’s a shared destination that we must arrive at together. A lot of white people are getting it twisted as somehow excluding anyone else from ‘mattering’. It’s gross self indulgence and wilful ignorance to not see that this isn’t about you, but you do have work to do. Today, we stand with the black community in solidarity against the systemic oppression and profiteering from their land and culture that has formed the foundations of Western ‘civilisation’. Making it about your delicate white ego is precisely part of the problem.

Yet, I’ve spent time reflecting upon my own privilege, something that’s been hard at times, since my life has never really felt very privileged. I empathise that It’s hard for people to consolidate they’ve had a head start in life when the world they see around them doesn’t appear to reflect that. I say that for balance, but so long as our history books and education programs don’t accurately contextualise and confront the accepted narratives concerning our colonial history, the crimes of empire, the racism that built the world we live in, nothing will change.

I was moved by George Floyd’s death. I watched the video not knowing he would die, and felt like many that I wished I could punch through my screen and make it stop. It was shocking. Another massive fuck you to the notion of policing by consent, and another unnecessarily fatal abuse of power. This moved me to act on a concept I’d already been working on in the studio.

I’ve been playing with the iconography of justice, and that evolved into a series of paintings, ultimately a polyptych allegory of liberty. The IV July is replaced with IV SALE, we the people, whether our labour or data – our only purpose is to serve as stock. Emancipation was never about liberty or equality, which is why they compensated slave owners for their loss of ‘property’. It renders the concept of liberty as hollow as the statue itself. It was always about transference of wealth from the state to private ownership. Taxes from black people paid the debt for their ancestors freedom until as recently as 2015 in the UK. What a horrific legacy. So, with all of this rattling around my brain I felt like a black square on social media would never be enough, so I decided to go big!

I think in a world where opinions are stated as facts and with the backlash against science, and experts in general, these symbols are more important than ever. They’re archetypes within our collective conscious that transcend argument. You can’t fight a symbol, only reflect upon why you feel the way you do about it. These symbols are used to legitimise power and I want to challenge that authority, I want more of my work to provoke these kinds of reflections. Systemic change must come from public pressure, and if people aren’t hearing the message, we need to find other ways to communicate.

Ultimately, I know I’m incapable of ever fully understanding, but I do stand with you.