The Great Rock N Roll Swindon; Anarchist Artists Unite

October at The Post-Modern Gallery, on Swindon’s Theatre Square, sees an irresistible exhibition for punks, general music or art aficionados, and devotees of the curious and unusual, The Great Rock N Roll Swindon. Running from the 2nd – 10th, it’s a free art show, the name of which was inspired by the Sex Pistols film and song, The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, and is part of a touring group exhibition organised by punk artist, David Apps.….

From 2012 over a six-year period he had staged six exhibitions a year, always with his artwork dominating the exhibition. From London, Essex and Cambridge to Newcastle and Berlin, he staged exhibitions, built up a large following and returned the following year, until opening his own successful gallery in the summer of 2017.

With Brexit and then the world closing down shortly after, sadly David had to close his beloved gallery in December 2020. “Lost and not knowing what to do,” he explains, “I decided to book an exhibition a month and go back to how I started out, booking venues and art galleries and taking the artwork on tour.”

The exhibition is made up of a plethora of artists from the original punk movement, alongside some extremely interesting artists and friends who David has worked with over the past seven years, including legendary singer of punk band the U.K Subs, Charlie Harper. Two Brixton based artists, Dalis & Angel, aka DnA Factory, who produce provocative and slightly wrong bright pinks!

British punk icon Gaye Black, AKA Gaye Advert exhibits too, a bassist with the Adverts, who hated being the female icon of the band. Her work has dark themes as well as the use of press images of herself and the band in her work.

Others include renowned artist in his own right and son of the artist Lucian Freud, David Freud, Mr Ben Art from Worthing with music-related and punk icon images made from old magazines, papers and paint under a thick resin; sounds real punk-paste. London based T-shirt designer, Sexy Hooligans, specialising in duplicate original Malcolm McLaren & Vivianne Westwood’s SEX design T-shirts and the Anarchy shirts worn by the Sex Pistols.

Two of the artists are originally from Swindon, Michelle Mildenhall, a Latex artist now based in Hastings, who’s work contains themes of bondage, face-gags and iconic faces, and Hammer Horror influenced gothic, Saffron Reichenbacker, with fun but angelic designs, Brighton based.

There’s also Northampton based artist, Monet Shot, with limited edition prints using consumerism themed products as his influence. World renowned mosaic slogan artist, Carrie Reichardt, of whom we’re advised it’s “well worth taking a look at her mosaic house in West London on Google.” Carrie will only be showing small works in the exhibition. Plus, a second mosaic artist, CuriousiTeas, who’s thought-provoking and humorous slogans are put onto custom-made teapots.

But the most interesting and topical sounding of all this bizarre collective, just when you think you’ve heard it all, must be Linda King, who creates large, decorative flat wooden Crows, of beautiful design, to hang in windows to stop birds flying into them. And Hastings based artist, Sassy Luke, who uses religious icons with a twist, and has a wide range of both religious and Covid design knickers.

And with the thought of religious and Covid design knickers I believe it’s best to leave it there. If you’re intrigued by any of this, such as the aforementioned Covid designed knickers, as much as I, you really need to take a peek into this, more works on display can be seen by following David’s Instagram account. I mean, who hasn’t tried wearing their facemask as undergarments for some light relief during lockdown? …. oh, just me then!


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1/2 Dove – 1/2 Pigeon with Micko and the Mellotronics

Had to chuckle to myself, trying to find this album stored on my phone I kept thinking about Mike & The Mechanics! Just, No, leave it; nothing of the sort, London’s Micko and the Mellotronics debuted last year with the single The Finger, the accompanying album 1/2 Dove – 1/2 Pigeon is due for release Friday (27th November.)

We’ve come so far since Television’s Marquee Moon, neo-avant-garde anarchism comes across cleaner this decade. You Killed My Father, now you must die, is a tune lesser aggressively executed than you might imagine from the lyrics. There’s a fairground, vaudeville style to Micko & The Mellotronics, wrapped in wryness, at times; which you don’t get with Sonic Youth, but unpredictably often spawned cringeworthy from the Velvet Underground.

Melancholic free, though; there’s nothing retrospective on offer, this is post art-punk, a distant cry from Talking Heads, feistier, it floors the vox, elevates to high-fidelity and fires on all four cylinders. At times it shadows Pulp, and at others Blur creeps in, but throughout, it’s fresh and exhilarant. Welcome to the eccentric and individual biosphere of Micko Westmoreland, actor and creative, hitherto renowned for solo releases and material as The Bowling Green.

The Mellotronics initially began playing out as a three-piece with founding member Nick Mackay (drums) and the enigmatic addition of Vicky Carroll (band “wicket keeper” and bass player). In 2018, the band were joined by revolutionary guitarist Jon Klein (Siouxsie & the Banshees/Specimen, and founder of the iconic Batcave club) who also adds his flare to their upcoming debut.

A stellar array of special guest musicians feature too, including The Specials’ bassist Horace Panter (a friend & collaborator who has worked with Micko on an annual charity record alongside Rat Scabies for the last 7 years), horn impresario Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey/Madness/Nick Cave) and alternative violinist in excelsis Dylan Bates (Waiting On Dwarfs/Penge Triangle), plus the late Monty Python/The Rutles/Bonzos great: Neil Innes. Early videos for featured singles ‘The Finger’ and ‘Noisy Neighbours’, have also seen the band working with actors Paul Putner (Little Britain) and Susy Kane (The I.T. Crowd, Gavin & Stacey) respectively.

½ Dove – ½ Pigeon is elated trialling, chockful of historical and philosophical references, palpably paranoid of a modern apocalypse and merged in citations to pop-culture, at times rocking, others a tad unnerving. But while power-driven guitar impediments contribute to the discomforting moments, off-kilter horns counteract it with this sardonic glee.

Contradictory this arrangement puts your defences up, akin to walking into a modern art gallery not knowing what to expect. I wanted at times not to like it, as tracks like The Fear does what it says on the tin, but Good Friend is having-it joyously and bought me around. If I remain undecided it’s due to my own personal preference, and have to tip my hat at the ingeniousness of the writing and composition. It took me some adjusting to fully appreciate, yet I feel those leaning harder to post-punk rock and emo-indie will take Micko & The Mellotronics as new idols.

This is especially true of the next single released from it, Psychedelic Shirt. A coming of age theme, eighties set, when the culturally cool was at loggerheads with Thatcherite careerism, and tribalism was rife on the dancefloors of the local disco. Micko sums his notions, “Psychedelic Shirt tells the story of venturing to an out of hours school disco in a dishevelled scout hut in Leeds. Where Top Man flick heads had seized upon my newly procured paisley shirt and sought about destroying it. I’d taken it off because I was too hot, left it on a peg in the boy’s loos. Later, I found the article, ‘mopped up in the fluid, screwed up in a ball’ on the lino floor as the song’s lyrics state. I was forced to make a choice between victimhood or empowerment but left contemplating shades somewhere in between…”

It’s one slick album, razor-edged rock’n’roll meets avant-garde pop-art meets satirical Edgar Allan Poe short story, but in a cracker of fun.

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